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This indoor farmer wants to turn rural Kentucky into America’s ‘high-tech agriculture capital’

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Image: Robotics Business Review
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Jonathan Webb’s farm doesn’t look like much: tawny soil stretching to a line of trees, a trailer with a few makeshift desks. But if Mr. Webb gets his way, by mid-2020, the Morehead, Ky., property will house a 60-acre greenhouse—the first in a series of multi-acre, technology-augmented indoor farms meant to bring jobs to Appalachia and fresh-picked tomatoes to surrounding states.

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Jonathan Webb
Image: AppHarvest

Mr. Webb’s vision is to turn economically distressed eastern Kentucky into the high-tech agriculture capital of the country. He has no prior experience in farming, but he has managed to attract $97 million in project financing and a list of noteworthy partners. Ultimately, he plans to spend $1 billion to $2 billion on greenhouses—even if it takes a decade or two.

His startup, AppHarvest, is one of a growing number of technology-focused agricultural companies seeking to solve the problems of the U.S. food system—among them opaque supply chains, labor shortages, food waste, health and safety issues, higher import costs and an increasingly unpredictable climate—by growing food indoors.

Related article:  'Post-organic produce': Expanding indoor farming industry aims to make agriculture more sustainable

Compared with traditional farms, indoor farms offset weather-related risks, reduce food waste, use drastically less water and produce more consistent crops.

Read full, original article: The Indoor Farmer Who Wants to Remake Appalachia’s Agriculture

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