AppHarvest this week announced a $91 million financing arrangement with Equillibrium Capital, according to Food Navigator, who broke the news. The money will go towards AppHarvest’s previously stated goal of building out 12 high-tech indoor farming facilities by 2025.
Equilibrium Capital’s $91 million figure is a construction loan that will support the building of AppHarvest’s forthcoming 60-acre facility in Richmond, Kentucky. The Richmond location is almost identical to the company’s 60-acre high-tech greenhouse in Morehead, Kentucky, which is already operational and shipping different varieties of tomato to grocery retailers within a day’s drive.
Three more farms in Kentucky are already under construction, too: two 15-acre facilities that will grow leafy greens in Berea and Morehead, respectively, and a 30-acre facility in Somerset for growing strawberries.
The farms use or will use a mix of hydroponics, sensors, supplemental LED lighting, automation and AI as well as natural inputs like sunlight and rainwater to grow produce. AppHarvest is also adding more technology to its operations. It acquired harvesting robot startup Root AI in April of this year for $60 million, and CTO Josh Lessing (formerly the CEO of Root AI) has said AppHarvest is investing in robotics, artificial intelligence, teleoperation, and proprietary seed genetics. Its intelligent robot, Virgo, for example, is currently learning to manage crops and make decisions about growing decisions. All that tech, of course, means more data that has the potential to improve growing processes, crop yield, and food quality.
AppHarvest went public earlier this year via a SPAC merger with Novus Capital Corp for $475 million.