80 Acres Farms to Open First Fully-Automated Indoor Farm in the United States
80 Acres Farms, a fast-growing Cincinnati-based firm in the indoor vertical farming industry, announced it is building in Hamilton the first fully-automated indoor farm in the U.S.
80 Acres Farms executives will join Hamilton city officials in a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, September 24, 2018 at noon to mark the first phase of the project. The ceremony will take place at 7512 Hamilton Enterprise Drive in the southeast part of the city. The initial phase is expected to be completed later this year. It will feature state-of-the-art grow centers to produce specialty greens that include microgreens, culinary herbs, leafy greens and kale.
The company plans three additional phases at the Hamilton site. When completed the project will comprise over 150,000 square feet of fully-automated indoor farming, also known as controlled environmental agriculture (CEA). The full-phase expansion will allow 80 Acres Farms to provide more product to serve its existing customers and new ones with just-picked, year-round produce.
Produce grown at the Hamilton site will supply Whole Foods Markets, Dorothy Lane Markets, Jungle Jims, U.S. Foods, and other retailers and foodservice distributors. 80 Acres Farms currently serves Cincinnati-area customers from its facility in the Cincinnati community where it grows microgreens, culinary herbs, leafy lettuce, kale, vine crops like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
"We already have demonstrated that we can provide to our customers the freshest, best-tasting and nutritious locally-grown produce, while using renewable energy, very little water, and no pesticides," said Mike Zelkind, co-founder and chief executive officer of 80 Acres Farms. "With the Hamilton facility we will achieve the next-generation of indoor vertical farming using best of breed technology. This project will deliver our proof of concept that indoor farming can be fully-automated, commercially scalable, higher-yielding, and profitable. It will serve as a prototype for our ambitious plans to co-locate similar facilities with commercial customers in other parts of the country.''
Zelkind said the Hamilton site will be automated from seeding to growing to harvesting for highest quality and food safety standards. 80 Acres Farms personnel will manage the Hamilton facility, which will feature robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and around-the-clock monitoring sensors and control systems to optimize every aspect of growing produce indoors.
Hamilton officials worked closely with the company for the past year on the site selection. "The City of Hamilton is very excited about the expansion of 80 Acres in our community," said Joshua Smith, City Manager. "This is a first-in-class company, whose innovations will improve access of fresh foods to areas that need them the most."
Pat Moeller, Hamilton's mayor, also commented on the announcement: "Hamilton thanks 80 Acres Farms for its investment in our City. 80 Acres' high-tech indoor farm efficiently grows fresh produce that will continue to be sold locally. I have had the opportunity to purchase 80 Acres produce and really enjoyed the fresh, flavorful taste."
Zelkind said that 80 Acres Farms will be working with multiple international and local partners such as Warm Construction and Open Architecture. Site Solutions Consulting will be doing excavation site preparation work.
"We also will be working with current technology partners, Signify, formerly Philips Lighting and Priva," said Tisha Livingston, president of 80 Acres Farms. "Signify supplies the company with its LED horticultural lighting systems. Priva provides environmental control systems and process management software for indoor farming."
80 Acres Farms is headquartered in the Spring Grove community of Cincinnati, where the company was founded in 2015 by Zelkind and Livingston, both veteran food industry executives. It now employs more than 60 people in Cincinnati and other company R&D, engineering and production facilities in three other states. In its mission to locally grow the best tasting, most nutritious fruits and vegetables, the company partners in research with many agrotechnology and academic research institutions.
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