SOMERSET, Ky. — The Kentucky-based large indoor farm greenhouse AppHarvest is expanding.
On Monday, the company broke ground on two new facilities with the help of Gov. Andy Beshear and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers.
Since their ribbon cutting in October 2020, Webb said AppHarvest is rapidly growing.
“We’ve had 8,000 people apply to work at AppHarvest and in the middle of COVID[-19]. When people say people don’t want to work, no people in Kentucky want to work,” Webb said. “We’ve hired nearly 500 people in the middle of COVID[-19] in that Morehead facility.”
By the end of next year they plan to hire a thousand more people to work in the two new facilities.
“You got it going on, and you got to go on in ways that these jobs are gonna be here not just for years, but decades to come. you know what, after the last 15 months. I think you deserve it,” Beshear said of the economic growth in the region.
Seven months ago, AppHarvest started growing tomatoes at its Morehead location. Now, CEO Jonathan Webb said the Pulaski County facility will be home to berry crops.
“We’re going to be growing strawberries. I don’t know about you all growing up but I love berries,” Webb said.
In the coming months, Webb said plans include building a 30-acre high-tech indoor farm in Pulaski County that will grow a strawberry with 90% less water. In Rowan County, the company will house a second location in Morehead to grow leafy greens in a 15-acre facility.
“Strawberry imports increased 70% into the U.S. over the last four years, and the other strawberries are coming from California, sitting almost two weeks on a semi-truck to our plate,” Webb said. “We need to grow a good healthy, tasty strawberry, a lot closer to people's homes, and we're going to be able to do that here in Somerset, Pulaski.”
Rogers also praised the economic growth for the eastern Kentucky region.
“Now you see these terrific factories that are hiring thousands of Kentuckians to stay home and produce their future here to help prosper their home and to keep their grandkids here,” Rogers said.
Construction for both indoor farm facilities is expected to finish by the end of 2022.