Lewis Honors College Speaker Series: Jonathan Webb
Talk Title: Creating a Fertile and Sustainable Future
AppHarvest founder and entrepreneur Jonathan Webb will talk to students about living into our mission of finding their purpose and leading with integrity, while bettering the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Jonathan Webb is the Founder & CEO of AppHarvest, a sustainable foods company developing and operating some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms to build an efficient food system. AppHarvest’s farms are designed to grow non-GMO produce using sunshine, 100% rainwater and up to 90% less water than open-field growing, all while producing yields up to 30 times that of traditional agriculture in a climate-resilient growing system.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business, Jonathan spent years developing massive solar projects for the U.S. Department of Defense. During this time, Jonathan learned about the Netherlands’ modern, tech-forward system of hydroponic agriculture. This research, coupled with reports that global food production would need to nearly double by 2050 and news of expanding drought and wildfire across the country, led Jonathan to realize that the American food system required change – fast.
Jonathan returned home to Kentucky the same year to start AppHarvest. Jonathan knew that, by harnessing the best of nature’s capabilities with future-forward technology to grow delicious produce at scale, we could tackle systemic supply chain issues while also advocating for modern methods of sustainable farming. He also knew that AppHarvest could reduce environmentally costly diesel emissions incurred during the shipping process by locating closer to consumers, all while delivering more reliably fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
AppHarvest currently operates its flagship farm – about the size of 50 football fields – in Morehead, Ky., producing tomatoes. The company is developing a network of farms to produce a variety of vine crops, leafy greens and berries with three more farms currently under construction.