Huge ‘vertical farm’ officially opens in Florence with some impressive numbers
80 Acres Indoor Farms | David Winter |
IMAGES: 80 Acres Farms
FLORENCE, Ky. (WKRC) – A local company is growing its presence in the Tri-State as it prepares to hold a grand opening for another one of its “vertical farms.”
As Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear got a preview of 80 Acres Farms’ official debut in Florence, Local 12 wanted to know just how financially sustainable this new sustainable farm is.
The $74 million facility is an all-interior farm and it’s among the largest of its kind in the world. It, along with the company’s nine other facilities in Hamilton, Cincinnati, Arkansas, Georgia and beyond, produce leafy greens, herbs, microgreens, and tomatoes.
The company said its operations use a combination of LED lighting, artificial intelligence, and robotics to produce its crops.
It’s inside so it’s pesticide-free and uses 95% less water per pound of produce than a traditional exterior farm. It reuses the water as the plants emit oxygen. It also produces up to 300 times as much food per square foot as traditional farms.
The produce isn’t touched by human hands, so it’s package clean with no need to wash it. It also minimizes food miles, distributing regionally near its farms, therefor reducing trucking costs and food waste.
The success of 80 Acres Farms is perhaps best exemplified by endorsement of its largest customer, Kroger. The company just announced last month that Kroger is tripling the number of stores that will carry 80 Acres Farms’ products from 300 stores to 900 by the end of 2023.
The salads are sold single-serve and family sized, meaning no bulk product on the shelves.
This all doesn’t mean that the company is without its growing pains, as they announced a 10% layoff earlier this year.
Huge ‘vertical farm’ officially opens in Florence with some impressive numbers (WKRC, 80 Acres Farms)
“How sustainable is this economically?’ Local 12 asked Mike Zelkind, 80 Acres Farms’ Co-Founder and CEO.
“Look, this is a new industry, nobody knows how to do it,” Zelkind said. “There’s no playbook to read to go do it. We’re figuring it out every day, we’re adapting, we’re adjusting, we’re trying to build a phenomenal company for future generations.”
Governor Beshear acknowledged that the company may be a bit ahead of its time.
“I believe that the timing may not be perfect,” said Governor Andy Beshear, (D) Kentucky. “But it’s necessary and right, and we cannot wait until it’s too late.”
Local 12 asked Governor Beshear about his constituents who’re still doing traditional farming.
“With the amount that we need to increase our food production over the coming decades,” said Governor Beshear. “There’s going to be enough work for everybody.”
Investors certainly believe in the concept, Crunchbase reported that 80 Acres Farms has raised about $275 million over find rounds of venture funding.
Original Article: https://local12.com/news/local/huge-vertical-farm-officially-opens-florence-impressive-numbers-farms-farming-local-company-tristate-grand-opening-sustainable-interior-hamilton-cincinnati-arkansas-foods-leafy-greens-herbs-tomatoes-ai-produce-crops-pesticide-traditional-stores-kroger