The AppHarvest program, which gives students hands-on experience growing vegetables hydroponically, partners with Carter G. Woodson Academy on first high-tech container classroom in a metro area
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 — LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY — AgTech leader AppHarvest today announced the expansion of its AgTech Educational Outreach Program that places hydroponic growing systems at high schools across Kentucky and Central Appalachia, unveiling a new container farm at Carter G. Woodson Academy located at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Congressman Andy Barr, Fayette County Superintendent Demetrus Liggins, Senior Adviser to the Governor Rocky Adkins and AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb attended the event to celebrate the container farm’s arrival.
“AppHarvest has been an incredible partner to Team Kentucky because its leaders share so many of our values: putting education first by investing in our students’ potential, building a better Kentucky for all of our families with innovative new jobs and technology and ensuring our state remains an agricultural leader through the next generation of farming, and the next,” said Beshear. “That next generation is right here at Carter G. Woodson Academy, and I can’t wait to see how these students will grow through this program and seize the opportunities it provides.”
“AppHarvest is leading the way in developing the next generation of leaders in Kentucky agriculture. Through agriculture, AppHarvest is bringing communities all around Kentucky together to strengthen the future of this vital industry,” said Barr. “I look forward to coming back to see the great work that will be done by the faculty and students at Carter G. Woodson Academy in collaboration with AppHarvest.”
Launched in 2018, the AppHarvest AgTech Educational Outreach Program demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to developing the next generation of farmers as it works to build America’s AgTech capital in Appalachia. Each retrofitted shipping container serves as a hands-on agricultural classroom for students where they grow fresh leafy greens to provide to their classmates and to those in need in their communities.
“We started the AppHarvest AgTech Educational Outreach Program before construction even began on our 60-acre farm in Morehead. That’s the value we place on growing the next generation of farmers and on investing in communities,” said Jonathan Webb, AppHarvest Founder and CEO. “Five years from now, it’ll be leaders from these very programs and schools coming to us with ideas about how we continue to improve agriculture sustainably.”
AppHarvest has opened container farms in Eastern Kentucky at Madison Central High School in Richmond; Breathitt High School in Jackson; Shelby Valley High School in Pikeville; Elliott County High School in Sandy Hook; and Rowan County Senior High School in Morehead, the site of AppHarvest’s flagship farm. The Carter G. Woodson Academy container farm is the third addition to AppHarvest’s program in 2021 and the company’s sixth educational container farm to date.
As the first AppHarvest container farm placed in a metro area, the Carter G. Woodson Academy container farm demonstrates the company’s goal to create urban-rural connections through agriculture.
“There is often discussion of an urban-rural divide. AppHarvest and partners are committed to creating urban-rural connection to recognize that there is more that unites us than divides us,” said Amy Samples, AppHarvest Director of Community. “Building a network of AgTech programs across a diverse landscape provides opportunity for students to connect through shared experience.”
The Carter G. Woodson Academy container farm can grow up to 2,760 seedlings and 2,960 mature plants at a time through a nutrient film technique, or NFT, system, equivalent to yields from about 3-5 acres of open-field agriculture. The NFT saves water as plant roots are continuously fed all necessary water and nutrients in a shallow stream (or “film”) and recirculates any excess water back through the system. The Carter G. Woodson Academy container is the company’s second NFT system, following the container at Elliott County High School. The program’s other container units operate with a vertical hydroponic system.
Carter G. Woodson Academy’s agricultural teacher Jacob Ball will lead the new container farm program, which includes curriculum focused on topics such as high-tech growing and an introduction to local food systems and food resiliency.
“The buzz and excitement around launching this program has been immense, and I cannot wait for our scholars to apply what they are learning in the classroom to produce a tangible product to impact the school and community,” said Ball. “We’re hopeful this project will spark an interest and drive them to be the next generation of agricultural scientists that will help feed the world.”
AppHarvest is an applied technology company in Appalachia developing and operating some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms, designed to grow non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free produce, using up to 90 percent less water than open-field agriculture and only recycled rainwater while producing yields up to 30 times that of traditional agriculture on the same amount of land without agricultural runoff. The company combines the best that nature offers boosted with world-class technology including artificial intelligence and robotics to improve access for all to nutritious food, farming more sustainably, building a domestic food supply, and increasing investment in Appalachia. The company’s 60-acre Morehead, Ky. facility is among the largest indoor farms in the world. For more information, visit www.appharvest.com.