Turning Food Desserts Into Closed-Loop Urban Prosperity Oases
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The Plant is the name of the first zero-waste urban vertical farming factory that the non-profit organization Plant Chicago has created. John Edel, the CEO and founder of the forerunning Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, purchased an abandoned meat packing facility and is renovating it to house for-profit food companies producing aquaponic organic vegetables, herbs and tilapia, beer, kombucha, mushrooms and organic compost. The waste of each of these products provides nutrients for the next product or results in a finished good for consumption and sale. The Plant will also incubate start-up prepared food businesses, which will benefit from affordable access to shared space in licensed kitchens.
This serves as a good model for the rehabilitation of defunct manufacturing real estate that can be reborn to provide both food and work for disenfranchised communities in the wake of globalization’s offshore production.
With the help of a state grant and volunteer labor from interested community members and students of sustainability, this shared value vision is coming to life. The three-story Plant is now growing test crops in preparation to produce mass quantities of fresh food, thereby creating jobs in production as well as through the incubation of new food service businesses. The building is undergoing HVAC renovation to create its own energy by utilizing its own waste. The by-products of food production and services will feed an anaerobic digester, which will serve as a combined heat and power system.
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Mellino, Cole. (2011, October 31). Vertical Farming at The Plant: How a Former Meat-Packing...