In an attempt to feed 75 percent of the United States’ population with its fresh, leafy greens and greens-based products, Chicago-based FarmedHere — touted the largest vertical farm in North America — will build its 2nd location in Louisville, Ky. this summer.
The company has partnered with Seed Capital KY, an urban investment project that is turning a vacant, 24-acre former tobacco facility into a food-related business hub, called the West Louisville FoodPort.
The entire project is bringing nearly $25 million in investment and is expected to bring 300 jobs to the area, while providing local food commodities and education opportunities for cooking, nutrition and gardening, according to a press release.
The new facility, in works to be USDA certified organic, will feature 10 rows of vertical grow beds and packaging space for FarmedHere’s microgreens, herbs, salad dressings and soon-to-come baby food in the 60,000-square-foot space.
FarmedHere CEO Matt Matros says the space will include more advancements from the flagship facility in Bedford Park, Ill.
An aerial mockup shot of the 24-acre FoodPort campus.
“We’re partnering with some of the biggest technologies around the globe to bring in FarmedHere 3.0, basically. We’re going to be having a number of automated systems, the best LED technologies in the world, the best robotics,” says Matros, adding that the partnerships aren’t ready to be announced to the public just yet.
According to a press release, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) granted FarmedHere preliminary approval for tax incentives up to $400,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program on Jan. 28.
FarmedHere is also looking to create local partnerships to provide second-chance employment to those in the Louisville region, which currently holds an average 4.3 percent, according to Courier Journal
. Matros says he’s looking to hire on 40 to 70 new employees for the FoodPort facility.
When the project is complete — which is expected to be spring 2017 at the earliest — the vertical farm will have the potential to provide the 18.2 million people who reside in a 200-mile radius of the FoodPort with locally grown product.
“This FoodPort project is going to be a model that other cities are really going to look to replicate. So hats off to Mayor Fisher and Seed Capital KY folks for being trailblazers and really being progressive and forward-thinking about how to use blighted land and blighted buildings in a constructive way that not only creates jobs but also provides healthy and organic local produce to people who need it the most,” Matros says.
In regard to continued expansion, Matros says FarmedHere is working with real estate brokerage firm Jones Lang Lasalle to look for sites across the country that will be the best fit for the company, but no decisions have been made yet.
Photos courtesy of BIGfish Communications.