Hamilton County’s strong agricultural economy positions Italian-American farm partnership for success
Today, Cultiva Farms USA announced the completion of its new cold storage facility, part of a $10 million project to build a leafy salad crop farm on a 460-acre ranch at Timber Lake in Jennings, Florida. Cultiva Farms USA is a partnership between an Italian family company, Cultiva, and the largest American producer of fresh-cut vegetables and fruit, Taylor Farms. The goal of the partnership is to bring specialized Italian growing techniques to the US market to encourage significant production of salad crops in the eastern United States, close to big metropolitan areas where most of the consumption takes place.
Hamilton County Development Authority (HCDA) awarded a two-part grant to support the company’s growth, based on its commitment to employ 34 people and the completion of its cold storage facility. As of today, both milestones have been met. The new cold storage facility allows the product to be stored, cooled and shipped in Hamilton County, rather than being shipped to another location.
“We see this project as an exciting opportunity not only for our company but for agriculture and Hamilton County overall,” said Federico Boscolo, President of Cultiva Farms USA. “Bringing new agricultural techniques to the east coast of the United States has the potential to dramatically increase production while creating local job opportunities in Jennings. We are thrilled with our progress and thankful for the community’s continued support of our business.”
Cultiva Farms is the first company producing baby leaf in high tunnels (not hydroponic or vertical farming) and, at the moment, it is also the largest one. The farm includes 800 tunnels (hoop houses), providing 125-acres of covered area to produce conventional spinach and arugula year-round and provide a buffer for adverse climate conditions.
In addition, later this month, Cultiva will have in production an additional 80 greenhouses to test organic productions; the aim is to have approximately 600 more tunnels which are 100% organic. For Cultiva, it would create a true production and logistics hub in the center of the American Southeast. In Florida, Cultiva can produce non-stop from October to June, when the already too high temperatures would not allow any other type of production.
The investment highlights Hamilton County’s strength in the agriculture industry which currently boasts more than $400 million in agricultural gross regional product according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Cultiva Farms USA is an incredible asset to our rich agricultural economy in Hamilton County,” said Susan Ramsey, Executive Director of HCDA. “Witnessing Cultiva’s growth over the last year has proven that they will be a long-standing corporate partner of our community and we are pleased to be a part of their investment and support their growth.”