Fresh-picked, year-round produce is getting a little closer for 80 Acres Farms, a Cincinnati-based player in the indoor vertical farming industry. On Monday, 80 Acres will break ground on a facility that will offer more than 150,000 square feet of fully-automated indoor farming, also known as controlled environmental agriculture.
Located in Hamilton, Ohio, this will be the first facility of its kind in the U.S., according to the company. It will be automated from seeding to growing to harvesting for highest quality and food safety standards. 80 Acres Farms personnel will manage the 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.
Produce grown at the 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.
“With the Hamilton facility we will achieve the next-generation of indoor vertical farming using best of breed technology,” said Mike Zelkind, co-founder and chief executive officer of 80 Acres Farms. “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.”
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 is planning three additional phases at the Hamilton site.