Ohio firm plans $120M indoor vertical farm in Covington

80 Acres Farms has announced the construction of an indoor farm in Covington, Ga.

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80 Acres Farms has announced the construction of an indoor farm in Covington, Ga.

Indoor ag company 80 Acres Farms to grow fruits and vegetables for Southeastern customers.

A vertical farming company plans to build a new $120 million facility in Covington where it will grow fruits and vegetables indoors.

Ohio-based 80 Acres Farms said it will hire 150 people as part of the project, which is already under construction. The indoor farm is expected to begin distributing produce to retailers early next year.

The indoor site will grow crops in rows above each other using hydroponics and LED lights. The project is expected to be completed by August, according to a news release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office.

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“We are excited to welcome 80 Acres Farms to Georgia as we continue finding new, exciting ways to support and grow our state’s No. 1 industry, agriculture,” Kemp said in the release. “I look forward to seeing the difference that 80 Acres Farms will make in Covington as they employ hardworking Georgians and pour into in the local community and surrounding region.”

Combined ShapeCaption
80 Acres Farms has announced the construction of an indoor farm in Covington, Ga.

Credit: Contributed

80 Acres Farms has announced the construction of an indoor farm in Covington, Ga.

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
80 Acres Farms has announced the construction of an indoor farm in Covington, Ga.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

After opening up to full capacity, the farm will generate four to five million pounds of leafy greens, Jed Portman said in a follow-up email. CEO Mike Zelkind said in an interview they expect to produce additional crops, including tomatoes and strawberries, in a few years.

The facility will generate four times as much food as 80 Acres Farms’ current most productive location in Hamilton, Ohio. The agriculture company operates eight farms across the country, built by its technology group, Infinite Acres.

“This concept of vertical farming growing food in the community, for the community, by the community really enables us to reconnect the people in the community back to its supply systems food production system, help the local economy with all the dollars we’re spending,” Zelkind said in an interview. “Well over $100 million will go into the community.”

The facility will use 95% less water than a typical farming operation and can produce crops year-round on less land, Zelkind said. The company has been working with the city of Covington to find renewable energy sources.

“We went looking for another community where government officials and business leaders were prioritizing the future of farming, and we found that in Covington,” Zelkind said in the release. “This new farm allows us to give consumers in the Atlanta region what they truly want — fresh, local, pesticide-free food.”

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80 Acres Farms founders Mike Zelkind and Tisha Livingston.

Credit: Contributed

80 Acres Farms founders Mike Zelkind and Tisha Livingston.

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
80 Acres Farms founders Mike Zelkind and Tisha Livingston.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The company will hire multiple roles, from hourly growing and harvesting jobs to salaried management positions in finance, sales and other business functions, according to the release.

Kroger, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market are among the retailers that sell 80 Acres’ produce.

Vertical farming is an emerging sector of the agricultural industry. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s parent company, Cox Enterprises, for instance, announced June 3 an investment in Mucci Farms, a greenhouse and indoor farming company based in Canada.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify 80 Acres Farms’ planned produce production.