MOREHEAD An innovative agricultural startup operation scheduled to construct a massive greenhouse in Rowan County has announced several new developments regarding the project.
The startup is called AppHarvest. Its founder and chief executive officer, Jonathan Webb was joined by Deputy Prime Minister Carola Schouten of The Netherlands in announcing that the company has selected Netherlands-based Dalsem to build its 60-acre greenhouse in Morehead.
"Since founding AppHarvest, I have said time and time again that the United States must learn from the Netherlands, as the country is the world leader in AgTech," Webb said. "Dalsem is the ideal partner to help build this industry in our region and demonstrate that sustainable farming is not some far-off future concept but instead happening today. This is Farming Now.”
Schouten, who serves as the Netherlands’ Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, announced the selection with Webb and Dalsem Managing Director Jan Pieter Dalsem at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which was organized by the U.S. State Department and Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event attracted 1,200 entrepreneurs from more than 170 countries and 400 international investors.
Schouten welcomed the transformation of Eastern Kentucky into a high-tech sustainable farming hub and improving access to fresh food.
“This is a good example of how international cooperation can contribute to sustainable, circular food systems," Schouten said.
Based in the Netherlands, Dalsem has 87 years of experience in horticulture and has completed nearly 1,500 projects in 52 countries, AppHarvest said in a press release. Construction has already started on AppHarvest’s 2,762,063-square-foot controlled-environment agriculture facility, which is being built as part of an $82 million deal with Equilibrium Capital. The structure will be among the largest in the United States when it opens in 2020.
"With the world’s population rapidly increasing and estimates suggesting a need for 70 percent more food by 2050, AppHarvest encourages American lawmakers to explore tax incentives for controlled-environment agriculture similar to those for solar and wind energy projects," AppHarvest said in the release. "The Netherlands has perfected the technology and proven its success, as the country, which is roughly the size of Eastern Kentucky, has used controlled-environment facilities to become the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products behind only the United States. These facilities allow Dutch farmers to grow year-round, eliminate the use of chemical pesticides and reduce water usage by up to 90 percent compared to traditional farming."
A press release said:
Beyond those benefits, AppHarvest will use its central location in Appalachia to reduce diesel use in transportation by 80 percent, as the company is within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population. By contrast, typical produce for sale in America is picked prior to being ripe and ages while being trucked up to five days from the southwestern part of the country or Mexico. The tomatoes and cucumbers grown by AppHarvest will be picked the same day they appear on many shelves, thanks to distribution partner Mastronardi Produce.
AppHarvest recently announced it has also completed a separate Series A financing round led by ValueAct Spring Fund with an additional investment by Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. Led by AOL Co-founder Steve Case and best-selling author J.D. Vance, Rise of the Rest previously provided the company’s seed funding. The amount of the Series A financing was not disclosed.