PIKEVILLE, KY - Mastronardi Produce Ltd. has signed on to help Jonathan Webb, founder and CEO of ag startup AppHarvest, realize his vision of bringing a renewed economic boom to the Appalachians via high-tech greenhouses.
“We are very excited to be partnering with AppHarvest and to support their plan of bringing high-tech greenhouse jobs to this Appalachian region and fresh, local, year-round produce to key markets,” said Paul Mastronardi, president and CEO of Mastronardi Produce. “AppHarvest shares our passion for developing local communities and our commitment to providing ‘fresh from the farm’ produce to our customers that we believe is critically important to our success.”
The greenhouses will be developed in the Kentucky and West Virginia Appalachian region, according to a press release, which Webb said is a key part of his team’s commitment to bring the industry to the heart of coal country.
"We believe that Mastronardi Produce has the most talented and successful greenhouse team in the world and their SUNSET® brand is one of the top brands in produce today,” Webb commented. “Our partnership with them will set us up for success and allow us to build a scalable model in the region.”
The first project announced, what will become a 1.8 million-square-foot, state-of-the-art glass greenhouse, is in Eastern Kentucky on top of a reclaimed coal mine site.
“Jonathan has identified terrific pieces of land to erect the facilities and secured enormous support throughout the region. His dedication to this project is unmatchable,” Mastronardi said.
In partnering on the project, Mastronardi will lend not only its expertise but also be the exclusive marketer for AppHarvest.
With over 10,000 jobs having been lost in Eastern Kentucky since the decline of coal, Webb added, “The spirit of the region is unmatched, and we want to work alongside those hardworking men and women. Our goal is to provide economic development and opportunity for this region.”
The CEO added that Kentucky’s borders lie within a day’s drive of 65 percent of the U.S. population and income, calling it “a gateway to the Midwest and South.” As such, he said that building near these markets will significantly reduce transportation costs and will provide a much needed local produce option for these regions.