AppHarvest is a leading AgTech company, public benefit corporation and Certified B Corp on a mission to feed the future from the heart of America with more sustainable farming methods, including using only recycled rainwater and up to 90% less water than traditional open-field agriculture. With our large-scale application of modern Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) techniques, currently adopted in our 60+ acre flagship farm in Morehead, Ky., alongside our implementation of leading-edge robotics and AI research, we’re re-defining modern agriculture.
By farming horizontally in a controlled environment, we believe we can tackle one of the most pressing issues facing the next generation: feeding a growing population. The United Nations forecasts global food production will need to increase by up to 70% by 2050 to feed the growing global population. Without change, we will see increasing disruption in our food supply, both local and global, that will cause food insecurity and malnutrition. Whether it is reducing the rates of preventable diseases in our communities or feeding a global population, creating a food system resilient to climate change is an immediate need. By using less land, water and zero harsh chemicals, AppHarvest is rising to meet this challenge, all while shortening supply chains and ensuring everyone can access fresh, local fruits and vegetables.
Growing food in an indoor environment is highly resilient to a changing climate. Indoor farms can provide a buffer against extreme weather events, such as flooding, heat waves, droughts and freezing temperatures. In 2020, California tracked 8,112 wildfires that burned more than 1.4 million acres that year alone. Research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also found tomato crops were at highest risk from warming temperatures across all major crops grown in California. They concluded the potential loss of land historically used for tomatoes could range from as little as 13% to as much as 66%, depending on future climate impacts. For AppHarvest, the abundant rainfall in Appalachia and the ability to use highly efficient re-circulating irrigation systems make our indoor farms climate-resilient and future-proof, particularly against droughts.
Climate adaptation can also mean growing more food locally, so our food system is not at risk from disruptions to supply chains during extreme weather events. We are strategically located in Appalachia, where we can reach 70% of the U.S. population within a day’s drive. This shift in where your tomatoes come from reduces emissions by more than 80%. Our products spend more time on the vine and less time on the highway.
Water is a precious resource in agriculture. In most regions of the world, more than 70% of the world’s fresh water is used for agriculture. Increasingly, that water is needed for other human activities. A 2019 multiagency report warned that in the next 50 years, the world will see a 33% reduction in its water supplies. AppHarvest’s operations are designed to use 90% less water than open-field agriculture, and we also run on 100% recycled rainwater. We capture rainwater on our 2.8 million square foot roof and send it to a 10-acre retention pond that can hold the volume of nearly 70 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Then, we filter that rainwater using sand and UV light and use it in our closed-loop irrigation system, which protects the local watershed from agricultural runoff.
We design each indoor farm so that people, plants and technology work together to deliver non-GMO fruits and vegetables that are free of harsh chemical pesticides. To avoid harsh chemical pesticides, our farm uses integrated pest management (IPM), a system in which good pests take care of bad pests. Our farms fight disease and pests 24/7 using an industry-leading scouting team and world-class technology. Our controlled system is also designed to minimize food contamination, reinforced by extensive sanitation measures for anyone entering or exiting the indoor farm. While fruit and vegetable recalls such as E. coli in romaine lettuce have risen since 2008, the Food and Drug Administration has deemed controlled environment agriculture fruits and vegetables safe and unaffected by these growing outbreaks. AppHarvest is part of the movement to deliver cleaner, healthier food to Americans’ plates every day.