Located on a 30 acre site on the North side of Stanford, KY, the home of Kentucky Fresh Harvest used to be a working farm.
High-tech greenhouses are renowned for their ability to grow quality vegetables in almost any climate imaginable. From the snow-covered mountains of Kazakhstan to the jungles of Venezuela and the deserts of Abu Dhabi, our design and build teams have established facilities of this kind on five continents spread across the world. Still, every project needs three basic elements: water, energy, and flat land.
While water and energy (natural gas, in this case) are generally available across the State of Kentucky, a location must be carefully selected then studied by our design team and agronomists to determine the feasibility of a project. Once we have our relatively flat land as well as the "green light" from the experts, it is time to break ground and begin site prep. During this phase the site is leveled, utilities connected to the site, and hundreds of concrete pylons installed in the earth as anchors for the steel frames of the massive greenhouse structures.
Once the site prep is complete, the first construction phase begins in earnest.
Finally - as the first seedlings are maturing in the first greenhouse, this last phase of construction will already be underway.
Just as in Phase 2, timing here is key. As the first seedlings are moved into the first greenhouse structure new seeds will be planted and carefully nurtured in the nursery. As more greenhouse space becomes available during this final phase of construction, more seeds can be planted to fill the space. In this way the cycle is set in motion - from seedling to harvest and back again, over and over, throughout the year - and the true potential of 21st century agricultural methods and technology can finally be realized.
The Future of Farming in Kentucky is high-tech. The state-of-the-art technological systems and innovative agricultural practices employed at Kentucky Fresh Harvest help to ensure high yields and extended shelf life without the use of waxing, preservatives, or genetically modified seeds.
Powerful computer systems and software give our agronomists the ability to monitor, control and optimize temperature, humidity, and even radiation (light) conditions inside a closed system as well as the PH, EC, hydration and nutrition of individual plant zones.
At Kentucky Fresh Harvest constant computerized monitoring allows us a level of control over the growth cycle that was, until just a few years ago, unimaginable. As we approach nearly 100% control over the variables that affect plant health and we can mitigate nearly 100% of the environmental risk to our produce. Still, Mother Nature can be fickle and, even in a completely closed system, there is always some degree of risk involved in the agriculture business. Thankfully, our Chief Agronomist and Project Manager receive vital information from the system at all times so that any potential risk to our crops can be effectively dealt with as soon as possible.
Broadly speaking, hydroponic farming is an agricultural method that involves growing plants in a substrate, above the ground, rather than in the soil. By utilizing a state-of-the-art modified substrate and advanced hydroponic farming methods, at Kentucky Fresh Harvest we can maximize our agricultural inputs (such as fertilizers), effectively eliminate waste, and, therefore, reduce costs associated with those inputs.
Technically speaking, any vegetable traditionally grown in an open-field environment can be grown to its full potential in a high-tech greenhouse. Still, due to the amount of capital required to construct a greenhouse and the amount of acreage required to produce marketable volumes, some crops (potatoes or corn, for instance) would not be economically feasible candidates for a high-tech greenhouse.
For this reason at Kentucky Fresh Harvest we are focused on the niche vegetable markets. The domestic market for niche vegetable items, such as cherry tomatoes and bell peppers, is strong and growing as the demand for these crops outstrips domestic supply by several billion dollars annually. We can supply a portion of that demand with fresh, high-quality vegetables grown right here in Lincoln County and, by offering domestically grown produce even during the winter months, we can capitalize on peak pricing and fetch a higher average price for our produce.
Thanks to our agronomist’s expertise in implementing the latest advances in agricultural science and technology, our facility will grow vegetables in optimum conditions every single day of the year. In fact, our greenhouses can yield up to 10 times the number of marketable vegetables per acre that an open field operation can produce, and approximately a number of times that of a low-technology greenhouse. This allows us to compete with the volumes offered by open-field operations while occupying a fraction of the acreage. Buyers on the wholesale market representing large retailers and restaurant chains increasingly prefer to source produce from growers that can, like us, provide a stable supply of vegetables throughout the year. It's less complicated for buyers and more reliable.
Furthermore, our produce will have a longer shelf life and excellent quality thanks to our advanced post-harvest technology as well as our team’s expert agricultural skills. Cherry tomatoes grown in our system, for example, boast three to five days of additional shelf life and our bell peppers last up to five days longer than the same vegetables imported from out of the country.