Company is packaging first strawberry harvest for national distribution
SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (November 4, 2022) — Somerset Mayor Alan Keck and members of the Somerset City Council on Thursday toured AppHarvest, the community’s new 30-acre sustainable indoor farm, where nearly 1 million strawberry plants are growing.
AppHarvest Inc, (NASDAQ: APPH, APPHW), a public benefit corporation and Certified B Corp, announced in 2021 it would build a high-tech farm in Somerset to contribute to the food supply year-round. AppHarvest focuses on farming more sustainably, using up to 90 percent less water than open-field agriculture and only recycled rainwater. The Somerset facility, which officially opened Thursday, is located off Ky. 461 in the Valley Oak Commerce Complex.
Pulaski Countian Willie Wilson, the facility’s general manager, walked the group through the operation and explained AppHarvest’s farming method. While some areas of the facility are still under construction, the indoor greenhouse is currently producing its first strawberry harvest and will supply the WOW® Berries brand. Strawberries are being packaged and shipped for national distribution, Wilson said.
The crop is expected to alternate seasonally with English cucumbers.
AppHarvest’s Somerset facility will employ 110 to 120 frontline employees, Wilson said. With today’s opening, AppHarvest now has three farms shipping produce to national customers this fall. The four-farm network consisting of 165 acres — which includes facilities in Morehead, Richmond and Berea — is expected to be operational by the end of 2022.
Keck reminded the group taking the tour how the story with AppHarvest began in Somerset — because company officials took notice of the movement to revitalize downtown and improve quality of life and reached out because they wanted to be a part of it. Alongside the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) and its President and CEO Chris Girdler, the city went to work “trying to find them some dirt,” Keck said.
“AppHarvest is here today because our city council and our team embraced the vision to light up Somerset and make it a better place to live and work,” Keck said. “I am grateful every day they chose to do so, and grateful that AppHarvest chose us. What they have built here is incredible. To know our community is playing a major role in supplying fresh produce to our country year-round is really special.”