FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 28, 2016) – Governor Matt Bevin and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today announced that FarmedHere, the country’s largest and longest-running vertical farm, will locate a year-round indoor farm and food processing facility in the West Louisville FoodPort, creating 40 jobs with a $23.5 million investment.
“Agriculture is one of the Commonwealth’s signature industries and we are excited to welcome a company that will help us build upon that success,” said Governor Bevin. “FarmedHere’s unique approach provides an opportunity to boost Kentucky’s local produce output and distribution. We are pleased to welcome FarmedHere to Kentucky and anticipate their fruitful partnership with the West Louisville FoodPort.”
FarmedHere plans to lease 60,000 square feet in the FoodPort for its vertical farming operation and use half the space for up to 10 rows of vertically stacked grow beds. The company will dedicate the remaining space to sorting and packaging leafy greens and processing herbs and other plants for inclusion in salad dressings, baby food and additional value-added products.
The facility’s location will help FarmedHere quickly deliver freshly harvested, USDA-certified organic and pesticide-free produce. FarmedHere also plans to hire veterans and second-chance employees including refugees and ex-offenders.
“Louisville is an ideal location for a FarmedHere vertical farm as it enables us to deliver healthy, local, organic produce 365 days a year to the approximately 18.2 million people living within a 200-mile radius of the city,” said Matt Matros, CEO of FarmedHere. “We are thrilled to partner with Seed Capital Kentucky, the West Louisville FoodPort, the state, Governor Bevin, Mayor Fischer and Louisville Forward as we work to make this new facility a reality and give back to the Louisville community.”
“FarmedHere’s sustainable practices and compassionate hiring policy make it an ideal community partner in west Louisville,” Fischer said. “The addition of this innovative company to the West Louisville FoodPort affirms our commitment to giving every citizen an opportunity for a healthy lifestyle by making locally grown food easily accessible.”
FarmedHere opened its first vertical farm in Chicago in 2010. The company works closely with local vendors to get produce from harvest to store within 48 hours, and to ensure distribution remains within 200 miles of the operation. FarmedHere currently sells to many large grocery stores in the Greater Chicago area, including Whole Foods and Mariano’s, a division of Kroger.
The company expects to work with traditional farmers, rather than compete with them, by growing produce in seasons when traditional farmers cannot, and by offering produce not supported by the Kentucky climate. FarmedHere’s vertical growing technology and local distribution methods help reduce time to market, energy use and overall costs. By growing entirely indoors with complete control of all variables, FarmedHere eliminates many of the obstacles traditional agriculture faces, including bugs, diseases, pesticides and weather.
FarmedHere is one of several businesses to commit to operating at the FoodPort. Other businesses include The Weekly Juicery, Piazza Produce and Just One Organics. Construction is expected to begin in August and businesses will begin their operations roughly 14 months later.
“I am pleased FarmedHere has chosen Louisville to locate its new facility, which will create new job opportunities and provide a boost to the local economy,” said Senate Minority Caucus Chair Gerald A. Neal, of Louisville. “The fresh, healthy food availability also will be good for us and will attract others to the area. I welcome FarmedHere and look forward to a long and successful corporate partnership.”
“The announcement of FarmedHere partnering with FoodPort is exciting news and will capitalize upon our efforts to bring employment, investment and healthy food production and consumption to West Louisville,” said Rep. Darryl Owens, of Louisville. “This is an innovative agriculture initiative and a vital economic boost as it will focus on hiring veterans and second chance employees to staff the facility.”
“This is a fantastic affirmation of the promise of the FoodPort,” said Caroline Heine, co-founder and project director of Seed Capital KY, the group developing the FoodPort. “FarmedHere sees the value of this integrated, public-private-nonprofit partnership, and has chosen to expand its business here, bringing investment, jobs and relationships, and offering a year-round supply of healthy, locally-grown food for our community. We could not be more excited.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved FarmedHere for tax incentives up to $400,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
In addition, FarmedHere can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.
To learn more about FarmedHere, visit www.farmedhere.com.
(Image: FarmedHere website)