AppHarvest today announced it has planted its first tomato crop at the company’s high-tech controlled environment agriculture facility in Morehead, Ky. The crop is scheduled to be harvested and available at leading U.S. grocery stores in early 2021.
The Morehead facility spans 2.76 million square feet, the equivalent of 45 football fields. It’s the first of a series of indoor farms designed to redefine American agriculture by growing non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free fruits and vegetables using 100% recycled rainwater at locations closer to the people eating them. From its base in Appalachia, AppHarvest can reach nearly 70% of Americans in less than a day’s drive. The company and its mission represent a stark change to the existing American food system, which is increasingly reliant on imports.
“Today is an important milestone for AppHarvest as we seek to build a more resilient American food system from within Appalachia,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb. “Our team has built one of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced indoor farms, which means AppHarvest’s tomatoes soon will be on store shelves and in American homes. This is just the first step for us. To transform agriculture in America, we need to do this on a large scale, and we’re already taking steps to do just that with construction underway on two more facilities totaling about 75 acres of growing space.”
AppHarvest’s tomatoes are scheduled to be in grocery stores in the first quarter of 2021, and the company reaffirms its expectations to begin recognizing revenues at that time.
AppHarvest chose tomatoes as its first crop because more than 60% of America’s fresh tomatoes were imported in 2019, an increase of almost 50% over the past decade. By growing closer to where people eat, AppHarvest’s tomatoes will be picked at peak ripeness and delivered quickly to grocers. AppHarvest is providing Americans with tomatoes that are locally grown using only recycled rainwater and no chemical pesticides. AppHarvest’s worker-first philosophy also promotes fair labor practices.
In addition to the Morehead, Ky., facility, AppHarvest is already building two additional high-tech controlled environment agriculture indoor farms. The first will be comparable in size to the company’s flagship operation in Morehead, Ky., and is located outside Richmond, Ky. The third, located in Berea, Ky., will be 15 acres and grow leafy greens. Why leafy greens? American production is concentrated in Arizona and California, which combine to produce 90% of U.S.-grown leafy greens. These states are in the midst of a decades-long drought and are consuming precious water resources. By contrast, Central Appalachia, where AppHarvest is investing in building controlled environment agriculture facilities, has an abundance of rain, so much so that the facilities can be operated on 100% recycled rainwater.
How else is AppHarvest different from traditional agriculture companies?
- AppHarvest puts the planet and people first as a Public Benefit Corporation and has also been certified as a B Corp by the nonprofit B Lab. The company is one of only 3,600 certified B Corps and will become one of just a dozen publicly traded public benefit corporations upon the completion of its business combination with publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company Novus Capital Corporation (Nasdaq: NOVS). The B Corp certification process analyzed
AppHarvest’s commitment to forward-thinking initiatives across community, customers, environment, governance and workers.
- The company’s controlled environment agriculture facilities are designed to reduce water usage by 90% due to unique circular irrigation systems connected with large-scale rainwater retention ponds. The closed-loop system runs entirely off 100% recycled rainwater and is designed to eliminate harmful agricultural runoff, which contributes to toxic algae blooms.
- Strong relationships with leading AgTech universities and companies in the Netherlands position AppHarvest as a leading applied technology agriculture company. The Netherlands has developed a significant high-tech greenhouse industry, becoming the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter despite having a land mass roughly equal in size to Eastern Kentucky. Earlier this year, AppHarvest led a landmark 17-organization agreement uniting Dutch and Kentucky governments, universities, and private companies, with all committing to building America’s AgTech capital from within Appalachia.
In just over two years, AppHarvest has attracted more than $150 million in investment into Central Appalachia and announced on September 29, 2020, its entry into a definitive agreement for a business combination with publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company Novus Capital Corporation (Nasdaq: NOVS). The combination, which is expected to close late in the fourth quarter of 2020 or early in the first quarter of 2021, is expected to provide $475 million of gross proceeds to the company, including $375 million from a fully committed common stock PIPE at $10.00 per share anchored by existing and new investors – including Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Inclusive Capital, and Novus Capital Corporation. Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named AppHarvest and is expected to remain listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol APPH.
AppHarvest’s investors include Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Inclusive Capital Partners, Equilibrium, Narya Capital, Lupa Systems, Breyer Capital, and Endeavor Catalyst. Endeavor selected AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2019.
Board members include food icon Martha Stewart, Narya Capital Co-Founder and Partner JD Vance, Impossible Foods Chief Financial Officer David Lee and impact investor Jeff Ubben.
AppHarvest is an applied technology company building some of the world’s largest indoor farms in Appalachia. The Company combines conventional agricultural techniques with cutting-edge technology and is addressing key issues including improving access for all to nutritious food, farming more sustainably, building a home-grown food supply, and increasing investment in Appalachia. The Company’s 60-acre Morehead, KY facility is among the largest indoor farms in the U.S. For more information, visit https://www.appharvest.com/.