AppHarvest Workshop at TEDxCorbin
Leafy Green Snack Break + Tech for Resilient Communities Panel

Workshop Description

Student farmers from Pikeville’s Shelby Valley High School (SVHS) provided a Leafy Green Snack Break, featuring greens grown in the AppHarvest high-tech container farm—a shipping container retrofitted as a controlled-environment agriculture facility. Greens were prepared by Chef Matt Corbin, owner and chef at The Blue Raven, also of Pikeville.

Ramel Bradley, Community Director and former UK Wildcats point guard, introduced the student farmers and described the AgTech movement underway in Eastern Kentucky.

A group of leaders from Eastern Kentucky then discussed how to use technology to develop resilient economies. Panelists included:


2819 Studios Founder Justin Hall: Honored as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2017, Hall grew up in Eastern Kentucky and taught himself to code while recovering from back surgery. Hall helped launch an initiative in the region to teach computer programming to laid-off coal miners and now runs his own technology company.

Shelby Valley High School Principal Gregory Napier: In partnership with AppHarvest, Napier launched an AgTech class in which students operate a container farm, growing leafy greens such as red leaf lettuce. More than 80 students applied for the 33 available seats, validating Napier’s vision. “Our goal is to give students an opportunity to explore new careers, and this is a heck of an educational opportunity,” he said.

Shelby Valley High School sophomore Olivia Thornsbury: Olivia is among the 33 student innovators operating the AppHarvest AgTech container farm.  As a team lead, she helped shape the program at her high school.

Shaping Our Appalachian Region Executive Director Jared Arnett: Arnett serves as the founding leader of this bipartisan initiative launched by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and former Gov. Steve Beshear. SOAR’s mission is to improve Eastern Kentucky’s economy and quality of life. Prior to joining SOAR, Arnett helped 10 successful startups expand in the region.


The group explored how to use technology to facilitate collaboration and build diversified economies, which are better able to withstand industry downturns.