BOONE COUNTY, Ky. — A massive investment in northern Kentucky aims to bring organic, sustainable food right to the customer’s table, as well as create over 100 new jobs in the region.

What You Need To Know

  • A new vertical farming facility is coming to northern Kentucky

  • Vertical farming conserves space and can grow fresh produce year round

  • The massive investment will also bring over 100 new jobs to the region

  • The president and CEO of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED said he thinks it will be the start of a trend

Northern Kentucky farmers are growing up, literally, or at least they will be later this year. 80 Acres Farms is moving forward with plans to locate a new vertical farming facility in Boone County, creating 125 paying jobs with a $74 million investment.

80 Acres CEO and co-founder Mike Zelkind explained, in plain terms, what vertical farming is.

“If you can picture taking a field, literally a field, and stacking it on top of another field, and another field, and another field,” he said.

These stacked fields, within a compound, can grow food year round that can end up on a customer’s table within a day of harvest. Zelkind said the food is natural, healthy, GMO-free and sustainable. It’s also not as vulnerable to breaks in the supply chain as other produce seen in a grocery store, which Zelkind said on average travels over 2,000 miles to get there.

“The problem with all that food travel is you stop breeding food for flavor and nutrition, you breed it for transportation, to survive that difficult logistic cycle,” he said. “Because of the way that we’re able to utilize space, we can place these farms right at the point of consumption.”

This will be the company’s ninth farm, and its first in Kentucky, reusing an existing 200,000-square-foot building on over 22 acres, which will be operational in quarter three of 2022.

It’s the latest big time economic investment in Kentucky, which has seen many over the last year.

“These are good jobs. It’s a good company doing good work that’s putting out an outstanding product,” said Northern Kentucky Tri-ED president and CEO Lee Crume.

Crume said he thinks this will be the start of a trend.

“It’s without a doubt going to happen, and what I really like to think is that with the Hamilton headquarters and with this facility here, we can start to build that story to say other types of these entities can do well here and that they should come here,” he said.

It used to be that one couldn’t find good, fresh tomatoes in the winter, but those times may soon be changing.