Chamber Gives AppHarvest Chance to Discuss Root Planting in Pulaski | New



At this month’s Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce lunch, the topic was, and rightly so… food.

This is because two executives from AppHarvest, one of the newest and most forward-thinking companies to invest in Pulaski County, were the guest speakers, introducing the House crowd to their unique approach to investing in Pulaski County. product culture – something they will be doing here in this community.

AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb was originally scheduled to be the speaker, but was unable to attend. In his place were Chris Scott, chief development officer, and Akash Nandi, vice president of corporate deployments.

In June, AppHarvest opened a sustainable 30-acre indoor farm dedicated to growing strawberries year-round. It is a multi-million dollar investment that is expected to add hundreds of new jobs to the local economy and, located off Ky. 461, expands the Valley Oak shopping complex in eastern Pulaski County .

Somerset Farm is one of five farms in operation or in progress. A 58-acre facility in Morehead grows tomatoes. Two 15-acre facilities in Morehead and Berea will grow leafy vegetables while a 60-acre facility in Richmond will grow vines.

“We have had Somerset and Pulaski County on our radar for quite some time now,†said Scott, who noted that construction of the new facility was operating “at the speed of lightâ€, should be built in twice. less time than the Richmond and the Berea locations were.

Nandi said that sustainable agriculture is important for the future, and that Webb’s vision of finding new ways to eat is something he’s happy to be a part of.

“At the moment, the way we feed ourselves just isn’t working,†Nandi said. “We get more than half of our food from other countries. What COVID has highlighted is that you can’t always rely on this. We need more resilience, we need more independence in the way we choose to feed ourselves and future generations. “

Nandi’s job is to take leading agricultural minds and resources from across the country and bring it all to Kentucky and help put that knowledge in place here.

“What we’re doing is building these greenhouses,†Nandi said. “These things are really huge.… You can create 30 times more food per square acre… We are able to create a whole new way of eating that has never really been done before in the country.â€

High-tech means are contributing to this plan, including climate screening, robotics and artificial intelligence. Scott said the AppHarvest greenhouse is a controlled environment that “may be the best place in the state to work, especially during the summer, or January, February when it’s cold. (Indoors) it’s 72 degrees. , it’s clear. Our associates are in shorts and t-shirts. “

The greenhouse is also self-sufficient, capturing 100 percent of the rainwater and using huge retention basins to help protect it from the effects of challenges such as wildfires and droughts, Scott noted.

Scott said people are asking where AppHarvest’s products can be found and purchased, and the answer is that there are many options. Even locally, going to a Kroger store may be “the easiest way” to find them, Scott said, but many other retailers carry AppHarvest products, including Walmart, Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s, Winn / Dixie, Aldi , Meijer and Publix.

“I’ve seen our tomatoes all over the country before,†Scott said. “… Not that I was looking for them, but just because I’m like you, I shop. … So it’s really exciting to see where this first generation of our tomatoes show up.”

Scott also noted that very few pesticides are used and only as a “last resortâ€. They have bumblebees to use for pollination and are very concerned about food safety, he said. Each plant has its own personal dripper, and the recyclable water is captured in a gutter system to help the plants grow. Associates often manage individual rows of the crop and are dedicated to that area. At the end of every growth cycle is “the greatest composition event ever,” Scott said.

An AppHarvest greenhouse is a hybrid lighting installation using LED lights that are 40 more efficient than traditional lighting, according to information provided by the organization.

Why aren’t there more greenhouses like this. “They are tough,†Nandi said. “These items are incredibly expensive to build. They are difficult to exploit. … What we’re doing here at AppHarvest is creating layered technology – software, artificial intelligence, robotics – for … where you can consistently, predictably, nutritionally produce year-round.

“We try to hire the best and the brightest here,†he added.

One of those bright young minds – noted specifically by Nandi, in fact – might be Ethan Brainard, the latest winner of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). The student at Southwestern High School is the CEO and creator of Broshrooms, a company that grows mushrooms in an environmentally friendly and waste-free manner via biodegradable bags.

For his efforts, Brainard won a full four-year scholarship to the University of Campbellsville, and he was presented with that scholarship at Tuesday’s House luncheon by the President of the University of Campbellsville, Dr. Keith Spears.


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