Greater Commercial Lending (GCL), which provides loans to businesses and organizations in under-served and rural communities, has completed about $50 million in financing for a high-tech berry farm in Somerset, Kentucky. The financing consists of two loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The farm, which is designed to grow produce using sunshine, rainwater and up to 90% less water than open field growing, is expected to be operational by the end of the year. It will produce yields up to 30 times that of traditional agriculture and prevent pollution from agricultural runoff.
The Somerset farm is owned and operated by AppHarvest, LLC, a subsidiary of AppHarvest, Inc. (NASDAQ: APPH, APPHW), a sustainable food company in Appalachia building some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms to grow affordable fruits and vegetables at scale. AppHarvest is a public benefit corporation and a Certified B Corp.
“Access to high-quality fruits and vegetables is critical for all Americans. GCL is pleased to support AppHarvest’s sustainable, high-tech agricultural process by providing access to government-guaranteed loans – a low cost and long-term financing source for these important agricultural projects,” said Jeremy Gilpin, executive vice president of GCL, one of the largest providers of USDA loans.
Eighty percent of the GCL-arranged financing for the Somerset, Kentucy farm is guaranteed by the USDA through its Business and Industry Rural Development program and Rural Energy America Program (REAP). The financing structure includes participation by GCL parent Greater Nevada Credit Union, Community Bank and Trust of Georgia, and other credit unions, community banks, and secondary market groups.
“Securing non-dilutive sources of capital to fund our growth has been a top priority since going public early last year, and I’m pleased with our team’s ability to source lower-cost funding in a higher-cost lending environment,” said AppHarvest President David Lee. “This funding agreement with the USDA allows us to continue to scale operations as we plan to bring the Somerset farm and two additional CEA (controlled environment agriculture) facilities online before the end of the year, which would quadruple our farm network and diversify our product portfolio to include berries and salad greens.”
The project is expected to create about 142 jobs for the community. The Somerset farm will consist of a 30-acre greenhouse, cooling and packing room and office that will process strawberries and small cucumbers.
Image provided by AppHarvest.com