Elliott County High School becomes the fourth Appalachian school in 2021 to receive a high-tech container farm through AppHarvest program, giving students hands-on experience growing fruits and vegetables
MAY 27, 2021 — SANDY HOOK, KENTUCKY — AgTech leader AppHarvest announced the expansion of its educational high-tech container farm program for Appalachian high school students, unveiling a new container farm unit at Elliott County High School in Sandy Hook, Ky.
Several prominent guests celebrated the container farm’s arrival, including AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb, Senior Adviser to the Governor Rocky Adkins and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who offered remarks to the school students and faculty in attendance.
“AppHarvest is helping to meet the increasing food supply demands and creating good jobs and new investments right here in Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Today we see more of that Team Kentucky spirit with Jonathan Webb, Superintendent Stephens and Principal Holbrook working together to create innovative educational opportunities for our students. To build that better Kentucky that we all want, this is exactly what we need – everyone working together.”
The Elliott County High School container farm is the third addition to AppHarvest’s program in 2021 and the fifth educational container farm to date.
Launched in 2018, the container farm program demonstrates AppHarvest’s ongoing commitment to fostering interest in high-tech farming as it seeks to create America’s AgTech capital from within Appalachia. Each retrofitted shipping container serves as a hands-on agricultural classroom for students, allowing them to grow and provide fresh leafy greens to their classmates and those in need in their communities.
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; and Rowan County Senior High School in Morehead, the site of AppHarvest’s flagship farm.
The Elliott County High School container farm includes space to grow up to 2,760 seedlings and 2,960 mature plants all at once in a hydroponic nutrient film technique, or NFT, system. NFT is a water-saving system in which plant roots are continuously fed all necessary water and nutrients by a shallow stream (or ‘film’). Excess water drains to a holding tank and is then recirculated. This system of high-tech growing sets the Elliott County container apart from AppHarvest’s previous educational containers, which have operated vertically.
“One of our goals at AppHarvest is to build an AgTech capital right here in Appalachia,” said Jonathan Webb, AppHarvest Founder & CEO. “We want to see communities across the region use technology to bring farms to life. And in five years from now, it’ll be leaders from these very programs coming to us with ideas on how we continue to evolve and change agriculture.”
The newest container program will be led by Elliott County High School agriculture teacher Makayla Rose. The curriculum, which was provided by AppHarvest, will cover topics such as high-tech growing and an introductory course on local food systems and food resiliency.
“This collaboration with AppHarvest creates an opportunity for our students and community to have access to hands-on learning and curriculum that will enrich our students’ learning experience and possibly send them down a rewarding professional path they may have never considered otherwise,” said Rose.
“This state-of-the-art container farm engages our students and community in the business, social and science aspects of the agriculture of the future,” said Elliott County Schools Superintendent Debbie Stephens. “To be able to offer this experience to gain a new perspective on an industry so valuable to our state, with many career opportunities within, is something we value here in Elliott Country.”
AppHarvest is an applied technology company in Appalachia building some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms that grow non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free produce using up to 90% 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 with zero agricultural runoff. The company combines conventional agricultural techniques with cutting-edge technology including artificial intelligence and robotics to improve access for all to nutritious food, farm more sustainably, build a more reliable domestic food supply, and increase 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.