Johnson Central High School becomes the tenth school to receive a high-tech farm classroom through the AppHarvest Foundation program, giving students hands-on experience growing salad greens and other vegetables
MOREHEAD, Ky., Sept. 29, 2022 — The AppHarvest Foundation, working to help grow the next generation of Farmers + Futurists by teaching entrepreneurship and high-tech agriculture by introducing high school students to controlled environment agriculture (CEA) across Central Appalachia, today announced the expansion of its AgTech Education Program with a hydroponic farm classroom at Johnson Central High School in Paintsville, Ky. A portion of the fresh salad greens and other vegetables grown by the students will be purchased by Paintsville Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Hospital for use in their cafeteria.
Maysville Community and Technical College (MCTC), a two-year degree institution serving communities in northeastern Kentucky, is supporting the Johnson Central High School farm classroom through a Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities grant.
“Kentucky has a rich history in agriculture. This hydroponic classroom provides students interested in pursuing a career in agriculture with hands-on experience in learning new, sustainable ways to grow crops of all kinds,” said MCTC Director of Workforce and Economic Development Lenora Kinney.
AppHarvest’s 60-acre high-tech indoor farm in Morehead produces sustainably grown tomatoes. Three more AppHarvest facilities – the 15-acre Berea, Ky., leafy green facility, the 60-acre Richmond, Ky., tomato facility and a 30-acre Somerset, Ky., berry facility – are all expected to be operational by the end of 2022.
“The AgTech Education Program, delivered in partnership with Johnson Central High School, will provide students with a STEM-based, entrepreneurial experience that ties directly to some of our society’s biggest issues, including ever-increasing demands on our food system,” said AppHarvest Foundation Director and AppHarvest Vice President of Community Outreach Amy Samples. “Student farmers will grow salad greens for both their school and Appalachian Regional Healthcare cafeterias, creating direct local impact.”
The AppHarvest Foundation AgTech Education Program provides schools with shipping containers retrofitted with high-tech equipment to serve as hands-on agricultural classrooms where students hydroponically grow vegetables such as salad greens to distribute to their classmates and those in need in their communities.
Since 2018, the AppHarvest Foundation has launched AgTech classrooms at Carter G. Woodson Academy in Lexington; Madison Southern High School in Berea; Madison Central High School in Richmond; Breathitt High School in Jackson; Shelby Valley High School in Pikeville; Floyd County School of Innovation in Martin; Elliott County High School in Sandy Hook; Menifee County High School in Frenchburg; and Rowan County Senior High School in Morehead.
The Johnson Central County High School AgTech classroom is the program’s tenth to date, with a goal to launch two more by year end.
Johnson Central High School agricultural teacher and FFA Advisor Sheena Blair will lead the new farm classroom and AgTech curriculum focused on topics such as high-tech hydroponic growing, supply chain and food production analysis, and an introduction to local food systems.
“This investment in our students provides a unique opportunity for them to experience the full range of the farming process beginning with growing the crop to marketing and selling the produce to then eating the food they’ve grown in the school cafeteria,” said Blair.
Student farmers can cultivate up to 5,000 plants at a time using a hydroponic growing system with efficient LED lights and a closed-loop irrigation system that is designed to use up to 90% less water than open-field agriculture without agricultural runoff.
About AppHarvest Foundation
The AppHarvest Foundation, a charitable fund supported by AppHarvest, is committed to growing the next generation of Farmers + Futurists by providing hands-on Ag Tech educational opportunities teaching entrepreneurship and controlled environment agriculture through a STEM-based curriculum. The program inspires youth and adults to learn more about opportunities in one of the fastest growing industries by introducing AgTech education to them. For more information, visit www.appharvestfoundation.org.
About Maysville Community & Technical College
Maysville Community and Technical College is a two-year college that has been serving the region since 1968. As part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, MCTC provides education and training close to where people live and work. To learn more about the programs of study at MCTC, visit www.maysville.kctcs.edu.