Elliott County High School receives new container farm through AppHarvest

Elliott County High School receives new container farm through AppHarvest
Elliott County High School receives new container farm through AppHarvest(Kimberly Keagy/ WSAZ)
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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SANDY HOOK, Ky. (WSAZ) - Some students at Elliott County High School will soon be able to help grow food -- not only for themselves but for the entire region.

The Elliott County High School container farm is the fourth addition to AppHarvest’s program in 2021 and the sixth educational container farm to date.

The container farm program was launched in 2018 and demonstrates AppHarvest’s ongoing commitment to cultivating interest in high-tech farming as it seeks to create America’s AgTech capital from inside Appalachia. Each retrofitted shipping container acts as a hands-on agricultural classroom for students, allowing them to grow and provide fresh leafy greens to their classmates and those in need in their communities.

AppHarvest has opened container farms in Eastern Kentucky at Madison Central High School in Richmond; Breathitt High School in Jackson; Shelby Valley High School in Pikeville; and Rowan County Senior High School and AppHarvest’s flagship farm at Rockcastle County High School in Morehead.

Elliott County High School’s container farm includes space to grow up to 2,760 seedlings and 2,960 mature plants, all at once in a nutrient film technique (NFT) system. NFT is a water-saving system in which plant roots are continuously fed all necessary water and nutrients by a shallow stream, also called “film.” Excess water drains to a holding tank and is then recirculated. This system of high-tech growing sets the Elliott County container apart from AppHarvest’s other educational containers, which have operated hydroponically and vertically.

“One of our goals at AppHarvest is to build an AgTech capital right here in Appalachia,” said Jonathan Webb, AppHarvest Founder and CEO. “We want to see communities across the region use technology to bring farms to life. And in five years from now, it’ll be leaders from these very programs coming to us with ideas on how we continue to evolve and change agriculture.”

Makayla Rose, Elliott County High School agriculture teacher, will lead the newest container program.

The curriculum provided by AppHarvest will cover topics such as high-tech growing and an introductory course on local food systems and food resiliency.

“This is exciting. Some students who might not like to get in the dirt have a different way of growing vegetables,” said Garret Barker, president of Elliot County’s FFA chapter. “It’s different than my farm at home. It doesn’t depend on outside factors like the rain. It’s all controlled by an app.”

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