Hydroponic Farm To Hire 150 At $120M Facility Near Atlanta

COVINGTON, Ga. (AP) — An Ohio-based hydroponic farming company says it's building a $120 million facility in suburban Atlanta, with plans to hire 150 employees.

The company 80 Acres Farms, based in Hamilton, Ohio, said Monday that the facility will be completed in August and start sending organic produce to consumers in early 2023.

It said the new farm in Covington will grow four times as much food as its current largest farm. CEO Mike Zelikind said the company will start by growing leafy greens, likely adding tomatoes and berries in the future.

Zelkind said workers would be paid varying amounts depending on their roles. He said much of the company's growing process is automated, eliminating some of the “backbreaking jobs” sometimes associated with farming.

80 Acres Farms currently provides produce to Kroger Co., the Whole Foods Market division of Amazon and specialty grocer The Fresh Market, as well as food service distributors.

Using proprietary techniques, Zelkind said 80 Acres Farms will provide tasty, nutritious produce year-round from its Georgia facility. He said not trucking produce from far away means that it will be fresh longer in consumers' homes. Zelkind said that, as well as much-reduced water use and no need for pesticides are among what makes 80 Acres Farms more environmentally friendly that typical supermarket produce.

Zelkind said the company will be seeking to buy electricity produced from renewable sources from Covington's municipal electric utility.

80 Acres Farms currently has eight farms in the United States.

State officials said bringing in companies with new agricultural technology is one of their economic development goals.

80 Acres Farms has raised $250 million from investors, seeking to grow rapidly. It recently opened a $74 million complex in Kentucky.