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Opening of 15-acre indoor salad greens farm featuring touchless growing system with autonomous harvesting

AppHarvest opened its Berea, Ky., 15-acre high-tech indoor salad greens farm featuring a touchless growing system with autonomous harvesting and announced a $30 million loan from marketing partner Mastronardi Produce secured by the AppHarvest Berea farm. Consistent with its strategy to secure attractive long-term financing for its assets, AppHarvest also intends to pursue sale-leaseback financing for its Berea farm.

The secured financing is being delivered in two tranches of $15 million each, the first of which occurred on Oct. 25, and the second is anticipated four weeks later. The loan will incur an interest rate of 7.5%, with interest paid in kind until the loan matures.

The hands-off system is automated from pre-seeding to packaging, including onsite washing to help improve both food safety and efficiency for the “Queen of Greens” washed-and-ready-to-eat salad packs. The farm is designed to grow about 35 million lettuce plants at a time, which go from seed to maturity in about three to four weeks, depending on the variety.

“Our top customers increasingly request CEA-grown produce for its reliable quantity and consistent quality—especially in terms of flavor, texture, color, and shelf-life—and its more sustainable growing methods. This deeper relationship with AppHarvest positions us to grow together efficiently to meet the increasing demand by expanding our local footprint and delivering on our long-standing ‘fresh from the farm’ commitment to customers,” said Mastronardi Produce CEO Paul Mastronardi.

“AppHarvest is deepening its relationship with Mastronardi Produce under the ‘Queen of Greens’ packaged salad brand. Securing non-dilutive sources of capital to fund our growth has been the team’s priority, and we expect this financing through Mastronardi to improve cash flow as we continue to scale operations,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb. “Working closely with Mastronardi, the AppHarvest team has set new precedents in the CEA sector by quadrupling our number of farms in such a short time. With the Berea opening, we now have two farms shipping produce to national customers, and our 30-acre Somerset berry facility also is expected to ship in the next few weeks. We expect Morehead to start its third harvest and to start planting our 60-acre Richmond tomato farm in November.”

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