Tomatoes grow in AppHarvest’s facility in Morehead, Kentucky. (AppHarvest/AP)

Tomatoes grow in AppHarvest’s facility in Morehead, Kentucky. (AppHarvest/AP)

AppHarvest’s indoor farm is the size of 45 football fields! (AppHarvest)

AppHarvest’s indoor farm is the size of 45 football fields! (AppHarvest)

Indoor farms can grow tomatoes all year long. (AppHarvest/AP)

Indoor farms can grow tomatoes all year long. (AppHarvest/AP)

Boxes of tomatoes are ready for transport. (AppHarvest/AP)

Boxes of tomatoes are ready for transport. (AppHarvest/AP)

Because the tomatoes grow indoors, AppHarvest does not need to use chemical pesticides. (AppHarvest/AP)

Because the tomatoes grow indoors, AppHarvest does not need to use chemical pesticides. (AppHarvest/AP)

Biggest Greenhouse Ever

Posted: March 1, 2021

Mmmm . . . juicy tomato.

Can you believe it grew indoors?

AppHarvest is an indoor farming company tucked away in Morehead, Kentucky. It just hit a big milestone. It began shipping beefsteak tomatoes to Kroger, Walmart, and Publix.

The indoor farm works like any greenhouse. Greenhouses have been around for decades. But not greenhouses this big. AppHarvest’s indoor farm stretches to the size of 45 football fields. It’s one of the largest single-story buildings in the world. It houses 720,000 tomato plants. Manufactured light and warmth will work year-round. Workers will harvest tomatoes continually. The goal: Harvest 30 times more tomatoes than a traditional farm.

Indoor farms are all the rage. At least 74 started in the United States just in the last year! Does it really make sense to grow food inside? It seems to in this case. AppHarvest uses no chemical pesticides. Its tomatoes are bred for flavor, not long-haul travel. That means people use less gas transporting them across the country. Instead, they sell the fruit nearby. AppHarvest also saves water. Workers use only recycled rainwater for the plants.

The “App” in AppHarvest stands for Appalachia (pronounced Apple-atcha). Appalachia is a large, mountainous area in the eastern United States. It includes much of Kentucky. Many people in Appalachia need work. The new company pays its workers at least $15 per hour. It also provides them with medical insurance. AppHarvest plans to build a total of 12 indoor farms across Appalachia by 2025.

Imagine this. You buy 10 tomatoes in the United States. Right now, around four of them would likely come from U.S. fields. Six would probably come from the fields of Canada or Mexico. Will one or two soon come instead from American indoor farms?