The 2021 CEA Awards were established to recognize distinguished individuals and organizations in the Controlled Environment Agriculture Industry across North America. In this series we will be highlighting our winners and their accomplishments.

We are excited to announce the 2021 CEA Award winner for Top Employer was awarded to AppHarvest. AppHarvest is an applied technology company building some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms in Appalachia. AppHarvest grows non-GMO, chemical pesticide free produce using 90 percent less water (and using only recycled rainwater). They also produce yields of up to 30 times that of traditional agriculture on the same land.

AppHarvest has a social mission to bring investment and jobs to Central Appalachia by helping to create an AgTech hub. In 2020, when most companies were stalled by the pandemic, their team grew from 20 employees to more than 500. AppHarvest creates equitable employment opportunities and is focused on ensuring a diverse talent pool. They believe everyone deserves a fair shake and set a goal to have 15% of their workforce be Second-Chance employees. They have worked with a number of organizations, such as Addiction Recovery Center and Goodwill Industries, focused on providing meaningful careers to people who exit the workforce unexpectedly.

AppHarvest’s starting pay is 41% higher than comparable jobs in Kentucky and 80% higher than the federal minimum wage. They offer team members comprehensive benefit packages, which include 100% company paid insurance for health, vision and dental premiums, which can equal up to hundreds of dollars per month for employees, particularly those with families.

AppHarvest’s employees take pride in helping to advance their social mission. Employees recently initiated fundraising efforts to support friends and neighbors affected by historic flooding. Over the course of two weeks, AppHarvest worked with eight other organizations through fundraising efforts, punctuated by a live telethon carried by two regional CBS affiliates. Together they raised more than $1.2 million for their community.

Congratulations to AppHarvest on being named the 2021 CEA Awards Top Employer!

For full list of winners:

The winners were selected by a prestigious, independent awards committee comprised of agriculture professionals from Artemis, Cargill, Fluence by OSRAM, and Schneider Electric. The committee received over 130 qualified nominations for the awards and selected 11 category winners and 3 honorable mention awards.