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AppHarvest faces eviction from Kentucky greenhouse 

appharvest berea farm
The 15-acre AppHarvest Berea (KY) Farm was built to be world’s largest high-tech farm for autonomously harvested salad greens.

Last week indoor farm start-up AppHarvest’s Berea, KY, farm received a notice of default and termination of its lease from Mastronardi Berea LLC, which owns the facility. 

According to the July 5 Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, “The Termination Letter alleges an ongoing and continuing violation … of the Lease with respect to maintenance of minimum production volumes at the Leased Property, which Mastronardi alleges entitles it to terminate the Lease in accordance with its terms as set forth in Section 8.2 of the Lease.

The Termination Letter, moreover, demands that AppHarvest Berea vacate the Leased Property, and includes an assertion of reserved rights to initiate legal proceedings against AppHarvest Berea.” 

In the filing, AppHarvest Berea contests that there has been or continues to be a violation of the lease, and it reserves all rights that it has under the lease, including the right to counterclaims of any damages resulting from Mastronardi’s termination attempt. 

Travis Parman, chief communications officer for AppHarvest, said July 13 the company “paid rent up front and believes it has met the terms of its lease agreement for the Berea farm and recognizes that such notices from creditors are not uncommon as a strategy for firms attempting to push their way to the front of the line in case of an actual default. AppHarvest will defend its position with counterclaims should any damages result from Mastronardi’s attempted termination of the lease. AppHarvest business operations continue as usual.” 

In December, AppHarvest completed a sale-leaseback of its Berea, KY, indoor leafy greens farm for $127 million with Mastronardi Berea LLC, a joint venture between Mastronardi Produce BB #:115453 and COFRA Holding. 

In addition, on June 30, AppHarvest’s board of directors elected to defer a $455,720 interest payment on its Richmond, KY, farm, to Equilibrium Sustainable Foods LLC, acknowledging in the SEC filing that “Such non-payment may constitute an event of default under the Equilibrium Credit Agreement. The Company is continuing dialogue with Equilibrium in an effort to bring resolution to the matter, but the Company cannot guarantee a resolution on a timely basis, on favorable terms, or at all.” 

In June, AppHarvest received a notice of foreclosure on its 60-acre farm in Richmond, KY.   

According to court filings and media reports, Equilibrium filed a lawsuit in Madison County, KY, saying it had “significant concerns” regarding the Richmond farm, and that AppHarvest failed to complete the facility on time, and on budget.  

In May, AppHarvest released its first quarter financial report and reported $13 million in net sales compared to $5.2 million in Q1 2022. Net sales by crop type were almost $11.0 million in tomatoes, more than $1.0 million in strawberries, over $800,000 in salad greens and nearly $200,000 in cucumbers.


Greg Johnson is Vice President of Media for Blue Book Services