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Commentary: Developing a resilient food system in America

By Jonathan Webb

Jonathan Webb, AppHarvest
Jonathan Webb

Today’s unprecedented times demonstrate just how vital it is to have a resilient and secure food system.

With our partners across Appalachia, from community non-profits and universities to government leaders of both parties, AppHarvest is building a stronger food system, creating America’s AgTech capital from within Eastern Kentucky. We aim to be a catalyst in a nationwide effort to build a more resilient food supply, one that grows your food closer to you.

We’re constructing a series of massive controlled environment agriculture facilities that will grow year-round and produce up to 30 times more fruits and vegetables on a single acre than can be grown on a single outdoor acre. And we’ll do it using 90% less water (and only recycled rainwater at that), natural sunlight augmented by LEDs that are 40% more efficient than typical lighting, and without creating any agricultural runoff. Zero.

Our first facility will open this year in Morehead, KY. For our first crop, we’ve chosen tomatoes. Why? In the past decade, American production of tomatoes has fallen 27%, squeezed out by a 56% rise in imports. Today, America imports 61% of the fresh tomatoes you find in groceries. It’s time for a change.

In times of uncertainty, we should benefit from long-term, well-developed solutions. Together, we can transform American agriculture.

Jonathan Webb is the founder and CEO of AppHarvest.