Updated: Dec 9, 2020
AppHarvest has been on a spree of major announcements over the last several weeks and two of those announcements have been new locations. One in Richmond Kentucky that will basically be identical to the current Morehead facility and one in Berea Kentucky that will be 15 acres of leafy greens. Together, with all three facilities, AppHarvest will have 135 acres of production. They will be growing over 4,000 acres worth of tomatoes and leafy greens on just 135 acres with 90% less water and 80% less transportation costs due to the fact they will be located within a day’s drive of 70% of the US population.
When we first spoke to Jonathan Webb, we were convinced of what the future would look like here in Kentucky. Like many people that hear his pitch and see his passion, you quickly see the vision and the reasons AppHarvest exists. We understood the why. What we did not understand was how quickly he wanted that vision of making Kentucky the agtech capital of the world a reality. It takes generations to build up an economy and a new mindset centered around innovation; however, right now is a unique time in history. Big ideas have more access to massive amounts of capital than ever before (AppHarvest has raised well over $500 million in a little over 2 years) and there is a major focus on sustainability and climate change due to natural disasters and other events affecting our society so I’m becoming convinced that now is the time for a movement in sustainable technology that will take us into the future. Elon Musk has been leading the way to date but other people and industries will follow suit and the movement will progress very naturally based on people’s needs and the environment. The first wave was energy and the next wave seems to be agriculture. Both are essential to fuel a society.
Establishing a movement and making a vision come to life takes much more than large amounts of capital and a founder that has a good pitch. It takes an ecosystem of supporters that are in it for the long haul. That is why the locations AppHarvest has chosen are very strategic and that is why Governor Andy Beshear and the state of Kentucky are getting behind this so heavily. To date, all of AppHarvest’s locations have been in towns with a college and they have made it very clear that each location will rely heavily on these education systems for talent, research, and growth. Berea College for example is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review’s 11th annual Guide to Green Colleges so AppHarvest will build off of that green mindset to develop future talent. In return, AppHarvest immediately brings a sense of excitement and makes these colleges a destination for intelligent students studying fields like agriculture, biochemistry, sustainability, and automation. Students can look to AppHarvest as an example for what is the future of those fields. This is all to say that JOBS and opportunity will be created for these schools to feed and that is what it takes to build a sustainable healthy economy… visionaries like Jonathan, education, Innovation, and job opportunities.