Jonathan Webb’s farm doesn’t look like much: tawny soil stretching to a line of trees, a trailer with a few makeshift desks. But if Mr. Webb gets his way, by mid-2020, the Morehead, Ky., the property will house a 60-acre greenhouse—the first in a series of multi-acre, technology-augmented indoor farms meant to bring jobs to Appalachia and fresh-picked tomatoes to surrounding states.
“If we had 500 acres of supply tomorrow, we could sell all of that supply to U.S. grocers,” said Mr. Webb, 34, who wears a uniform of dark jeans, a light denim shirt, round glasses and a Kentucky ball cap. “We cannot build fast enough or grow fast enough to meet the demand of grocers or consumers.”
Mr. Webb’s vision is to turn economically distressed eastern Kentucky into the high-tech agriculture capital of the country. He has no prior experience in farming, but he has managed to attract $97 million in project financing and a list of noteworthy partners. Ultimately, he plans to spend $1 billion to $2 billion on greenhouses—even if it takes a decade or two.
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