BOONE COUNTY, Ky. — Vertical farming company 80 Acres Farms on Tuesday announced the construction of farms in Boone County, Ky., and Covington, Ga., to meet growing consumer demand for local, fresh, pesticide-free food.
80 Acres Farms operates super-efficient indoor farms that can produce up to 300 times as much food per square foot as traditional farms, using 95% less water per pound of produce and minimizing food miles and waste. In early 2021, 80 Acres Farms opened its first fully automated farm, a 70,000-s.f. facility in Hamilton, Ohio. That farm currently serves more than 400 retail outlets, mostly in the Midwest, including Kroger, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, and other regional retailers, as well as foodservice distributors.
80 Acres first announced its plans to invest $74 million in Kentucky in January. It will create 125 jobs.
The company’s Kentucky and Georgia farms will be among the largest vertical farms in the world, at more than 200,000 s.f. each, and will increase total production by more than 700% when fully operational. Each farm will be able to grow leafy greens, herbs, microgreens, tomatoes, and fruits such as strawberries and blackberries—all under one roof, year-round.
“Our Ohio farms have been operating at capacity for more than a year,” said 80 Acres Farms CEO Mike Zelkind. “The only way to reach more people is to keep building. After proving our model at home, we have the experience and technology to scale up, starting in Kentucky and Georgia.”
“In Kentucky, we’re preparing to feed the growing population by investing in our agriculture industry,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “By pairing our rich traditions with future technology, 80 Acres Farms will help position the commonwealth as a leader in agritech for generations to come.”
Currently, 80 Acres Farms operates eight farms in the U.S., built by the company’s technology group, Infinite Acres. The Kentucky farm will begin operations by Q4 of 2022, and the Georgia farm will begin operations in early 2023.
“These next-generation farms will be our most efficient and most productive yet,” said Tisha Livingston, co-founder of 80 Acres and CEO of Infinite Acres. “Using our proprietary technology, driven by continuous innovation and improvement, we can grow at a new scale.”
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