MOREHEAD, Ky. — The AppHarvest Foundation announced the expansion of its AgTech Education Program with a high-tech classroom farm at Menifee County High School in Frenchburg, Ky.
Maysville Community and Technical College (MCTC), a two-year degree-granting institution serving the needs of communities in the northeastern Kentucky region is the financial partner for the Menifee County High School container farm.
“Agriculture is part of the core DNA for many Kentuckians. For our future generations to continue their livelihood in agriculture they must be open to new ways of growing crops of all kinds. This container farm offers students an insight into growing possibilities for their future. MCTC Workforce Solutions is excited to be a part of this endeavor,” said MCTC Workforce Solutions Director Lenora Kinney.
The Menifee County High School farm classroom is about 25 miles away from AppHarvest’s flagship 60-acre high-tech farm in Morehead where they produce sustainably grown tomatoes. Three more AppHarvest facilities are expected to be operational by the end of 2022. The 15-acre Berea, Ky., leafy green facility is approximately 79% complete. The 60-acre Richmond, Ky., tomato facility is approximately 75% complete. A 30-acre Somerset, Ky., berry facility is approximately 65% complete.
The AppHarvest Foundation AgTech Education Program provides Appalachian schools with shipping containers retrofitted with high-tech equipment to serve as hands-on agricultural classrooms where students grow fresh salad greens to distribute to their classmates and those in need in their communities.
Since 2018, the AppHarvest Foundation and AppHarvest have opened AgTech classrooms in Central Kentucky at Carter G. Woodson Academy in Lexington and in Eastern Kentucky at Madison Southern High School in Berea; Madison Central High School in Richmond; Breathitt High School in Jackson; Shelby Valley High School in Pikeville; Floyd County School of Innovation in Prestonsburg; Elliott County High School in Sandy Hook; and Rowan County Senior High School in Morehead, the site of AppHarvest’s flagship farm.
The Menifee County High School AgTech classroom is the program’s tenth to date, with a goal to launch two more by year-end. Menifee County High School agricultural teacher and FFA Advisor James Kash will lead activities of the new farm classroom and AgTech curriculum focused on topics such as high-tech hydroponic growing, supply chain and food production analysis, and an introduction to local food systems.
Student farmers can cultivate up to 5,000 plants at a time using a hydroponic growing system with efficient LED lights and a closed-loop irrigation system that is designed to use up to 90% less water than open-field agriculture without agricultural runoff.
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