80 Acres Farms, Cincinnati, announced plans to build what is dubbed to be the nation’s first fully-automated indoor farm in Hamilton, Ohio.

The initial phase is expected to be completed later this year, and will feature state-of-the-art grow centers to produce specialty greens, including microgreens, culinary herbs, leafy greens and kale. 

The company plans three additional phases at the Hamilton site. When completed, the project will comprise over 150,000 square feet of fully-automated indoor farming, also known as controlled environmental agriculture (CEA). The full-phase expansion will allow 80 Acres Farms to provide just-picked, year-round produce for Whole Foods Markets, Dorothy Lane Markets, Jungle Jims, US Foods and other retailers and foodservice distributors. 80 Acres Farms currently serves Cincinnati-area customers from its facility in Cincinnati, where it grows microgreens, culinary herbs, leafy lettuce, kale, vine crops like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

"We already have demonstrated that we can provide to our customers the freshest, best-tasting and nutritious locally-grown produce, while using renewable energy, very little water and no pesticides," says Mike Zelkind, co-founder and CEO. "With the Hamilton facility, we will achieve the next-generation of indoor vertical farming using best-of-breed technology. This project will deliver our proof of concept that indoor farming can be fully-automated, commercially scalable, higher-yielding and profitable. It will serve as a prototype for our ambitious plans to co-locate similar facilities with commercial customers in other parts of the country.''  

The Hamilton site will be automated from seeding to growing to harvesting for highest quality and food safety standards. The Hamilton facility will also feature robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics and around-the-clock monitoring sensors and control systems to optimize every aspect of growing produce indoors.  

80 Acres Farms will be working with multiple international and local partners such as JDL Warm Construction, Cincinnati, and Open Architecture, Beijing, while Site Solutions Consulting, Loveland, Ohio, will do excavation site preparation work.

"We also will be working with current technology partners, Signify, formerly Philips Lighting and Priva," says Tisha Livingston, president. "Signify supplies the company with its LED horticultural lighting systems. Priva provides environmental control systems and process management software for indoor farming."