INEZ, Ky. (WCHS) — A new industry is setting up shop in Eastern Kentucky on abandoned coal mine property in Martin County.
The business is called “AppleAtcha,” and it plans to grow apples on the property. With the coal industry gone in Eastern Kentucky, the venture is seen as the next major industry for Eastern Kentucky.
In Phase 1 of the project, 120,000 apple trees will be planted on 60 acres. Crews run cable across the property to hook into wooden posts, because the apple trees growing will be similar to a vineyard. The economic impact of “AppleAtcha” is expected to be felt across the region.
“We think when we are full board we should have about 2,000 jobs and there will be a lot of seasonable jobs. Seasonable jobs will equal that, 2,000 seasonal jobs and 2,000 full-time jobs,” said Jim Booth, co-founder of AppleAtcha Agritech KY.
“To bring real tangible jobs back to a beautiful community like that is that really inspired me and driven me down to Eastern Kentucky,” said former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar, one of ten investors in the project.
He said the health benefits of apples also attracted him to the project.
“Over 80% of our apple juice in our country is imported from countries like China. It’s a tragedy. We talk about the loss of manufacturing jobs in our country. It’s embarrassing that in our own country we can’t feed our people with our own fruits and vegetables,” Kosar said.
Meanwhile, Booth said the soil and elevation of the abandoned mine property are great for growing apples. Booth said the Phase One 60 acres of apples are scheduled to be planted this week. Eventually, he hopes the 60 acres will increase to 1,000 acres.
“We intend to have small tracts maybe 2 acres or 5 acres, whatever families can do, and we will buy their apples. We’re putting a processing facility in our industrial park here on the hill and we are also going to have a sorting and storage facility here,” Booth said.
The trees are expected to begin producing apples in a couple years.
Author: Gil McClanahan, WHCS