Vertical farming is integrating into the food supply chain of Kentucky.
One of the chief companies facilitating this change is 80 Acres Farms — a Cincinnati-based agritech company focused on growing crops indoors.
80 Acres recently celebrated the opening of their latest vertical farming facility in Florence that will grow beans, basil and microgreens. Down the line, 80 Acres plans to grow other crops, such as berries and tomatoes, in the building. The 200,000-square-foot facility sits atop 22 acres of Boone County land, making it the company’s largest to date.
The facility is 80 Acres’ first in Kentucky. In total, it’s projected to create 125 jobs, according to a press release from the governor’s Office.
“Kentucky’s leadership in agritech has made this possible, and now, our new neighbors can reap the benefits – from the revitalized building and property to the high-quality farming jobs to the year-round supply of fresh, healthy local produce,” 80 Acres Farms CEO Mike Zelkind said in a news release. “We hope this is just the beginning of our collaboration with the commonwealth.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear visited the facility on Tuesday. During the tour, Beshear touted the growth of the state’s agritech sector.
“Kentucky’s growth in the agritech sector is a key part of our commonwealth’s surging and versatile economy, which is creating quality job opportunities for all Kentuckians,” Beshear said in a news release. “I had the chance to tour this incredible facility Tuesday, and seeing this project firsthand was impressive. This is a major project for Northern Kentucky, and I am very pleased to see 80 Acres Farms’ facility fully operational.”
Founded in 2015, 80 Acres Farms operates indoor farms using 100% renewable energy and without the use of pesticides. The company operates four indoor farms throughout Greater Cincinnati, producing various food products like salad blends, microgreens, tomatoes, basil and ready-to-eat salad kits.
Since 2019, the company has supplied Kroger with a variety of crops. Over time, 80 Acres has increased the amount of Kroger stores they supply. This year, they inked a deal to supply nearly 1,000 Kroger stores across the southeastern and midwestern United States.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved 80 Acres for incentives last January through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. The law allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing. In order to be eligible, the company must meet annual targets outlined over an agreement term.