MOREHEAD, Ky. (WTVQ) – AgTech leader AppHarvest has delivered 2,500 pounds of Beefsteak tomatoes from its first harvest this week to God’s Pantry Food Bank, which will distribute them to those in need.
Through its 400-plus distribution partners, God’s Pantry Food Bank provides food to residents of 50 Kentucky counties, focused on Eastern and Central Kentucky.
The organization, which operates a distribution center in Morehead — the home of AppHarvest’s 60-acre indoor farm — distributed nearly 14 million pounds of fresh fruits and veggies and more than 41 million pounds of food overall during its most recent fiscal year.
“The faith and grit of Eastern Kentuckians has built one of the world’s largest high-tech greenhouses, and we appreciate the opportunity to share what we’re growing with those in need as we all work to create a resilient food system,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb in delivering the donated tomatoes on Friday.
“We’re working to create America’s AgTech capital here in Appalachia to provide affordable, nutritious and delicious fruits and veggies that will help reduce hunger and food deserts.”
“God’s Pantry Food Bank is thrilled to engage with AppHarvest to nourish more lives through sustainable agriculture,” said CEO Michael Halligan. “There are more than 250,000 kids, adults and seniors across Central and Eastern Kentucky who are not sure when they might have their next meal. Imagine the impact of now having a sandwich with a fresh, Kentucky-grown slice of tomato on the top.”
The donation is one of many steps AppHarvest is taking to address America’s food crisis.
In Kentucky alone, 20 percent of children and nearly 15 percent of adults experience food insecurity.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found only one in 10 adults eat enough fruits and veggies.
By building closer to consumers, AppHarvest provides fresher fruits and vegetables at affordable prices. The company is also focused on helping students grow their own food through its high-tech educational container farm program.
Started in 2018 prior to the company’s operations commencing at its indoor farm in Morehead, the program retrofits shipping containers with high-tech farming equipment to teach students to grow healthy leafy greens. The program started at Shelby Valley High School in Pike County and has since expanded to Rowan and Breathitt counties, with additional units planned.
AppHarvest also recently partnered with Save the Children to provide more than 1,600 leafy green growing kits to Kentucky kids in need.
“AppHarvest was founded as a benefit corporation and has also been certified as a B Corp by the independent non-profit B Lab, because we believe companies should be in the business of doing good,” said Amy Samples, AppHarvest’s Director of Community Outreach and People Programs. “We’re building America’s AgTech capital from within Appalachia and know that education is core to achieving that.”
Shipments from AppHarvest’s first harvest this week are now available at select national retailers such as Kroger, Publix, Walmart, Food City and Meijer. The company’s Morehead facility alone is expected to produce about 45 million pounds of tomatoes annually from about 720,000 tomato plants, a mix of Beefsteak and “Tomatoes on the Vine.”
AppHarvest has two more facilities under construction — a similar 60-plus acre facility outside Richmond, Ky., and a 15-acre facility to grow leafy greens in Berea, Ky.
AppHarvest also is planning for more facilities across Kentucky and Central Appalachia, with the goal of 12 total farms by the end of 2025.