Sustainable Cities™

Chicago's Newest Vertical Farm, Largest in USA

Urban farming is perhaps the most popular trend today when discussing Urban Greening. It has resulted from a food revolution both in concepts and implementation, bringing into focus on what is sustainable, organic, and local. Authors such as Michael Pollen have exposed and questioned our modern connection to food, or others like Fritz Haeg attack the concept of front lawns, encouraging edible landscapes. It is safe to say the food issues of production and security will not be brushed aside.

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Urban farming is perhaps the most popular trend today when discussing Urban Greening. It has resulted from a food revolution both in concepts and implementation, bringing into focus on what is sustainable, organic, and local. Authors such as Michael Pollen have exposed and questioned our modern connection to food, or others like Fritz Haeg attack the concept of front lawns, encouraging edible landscapes. It is safe to say the food issues of production and security will not be brushed aside.

Urban farming can be either a community and socially led project or a more focused "industrial" production of food. The most recent approach for start-up FarmedHere , was converting 90,000 square feet of a formerly abandoned suburban Chicago warehouse into the largest industrial indoor vertical farm in the United States.  The facility, which is actually the company's third, will aim to produce an upwards of a half million kilos of leafy greens per year, including basil, arugula and mints.

Technology

The indoor farm will be equipped with 20 five-tiered systems, lit by energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs. The plants are growing hydroponically, when roots are immersed in water, or aeroponically, when nutrients are sprayed on the roots. Both processes are without soil, free of herbicides and pesticides, and use up to 97% less water than conventional farming. It is a closed loop and symbiotic system, in which nutrients are derived from tanks of hormone-free tilapia whose nitrogen rich waste, offers up nutrients to the plants in a controlled environment that ensures optimal growing. The tilapia are also a part of the farms inventory, providing a truly local fish supply.

aquaponics

Financing

FarmedHere was able to grow rapidly from experiment to pioneer because of  innovative and enthusiastic entrepreneurship, which attracted the attentions of investors and lenders. FamilyFarmed.org helped the company make key connections at the Good Food Financing Conference that eventually led to an amount of $1 million raised through private financing, and $700,000 in loans. FarmedHere will also provide the community with roughly 200 new jobs through a partnership with the Chicago Botanic Garden program, Windy City Harvest. Distribution of the product is a large component to the success of this venture, and Whole Foods Inc.  have become the first adopter.

Denmark

AquaponicsNu  is an aspiring consulting and educational group aiming to increase the demand for aquaponics in Denmark. Hopefully it can also follow in the path of success seen by FarmedHere in Chicago. 

 

Read More:

The Future is Vertical Farming

New York: Urban Fish Farms

Plantscrapers and the Future of Urban Green Space

Friday, April 12, 2013 / By George Peter Surovov

Last updated Monday, April 07, 2014

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