Chicago is gearing up to be welcome the city's first zero-energy vertical farm, which will be housed in an abandoned food factory. By 2016, an old industrial building which was once home to Peer Foods will be fully functional complete with a brewery, kombucha tea factory, tilapia fish farm, commercial kitchen and research and educational space.
Called The Plant, the building is located in Southeast Chicago and houses Plant Chicago, the organization overseeing the renovations. The Plant is already producing mushrooms, salad greens, bread and kombucha - a sweetened and fermented tea. As explained on the organization's website, the vertical farm will benefit Chicago as it allows more food to be produced per cubic foot. Once up and running, The Plant will provide 125 green jobs.
All of the waste produced by the facility will be used to provide electricty and heat the building thanks to an enclosed machine that will digest the food without the use of oxygen. To understand how The Plant will work, watch the video below which explains how the waste produced by the facility will provide fuel and food.
This is great news for the Windy City, which has a long been the center of the country's meatpacking industry. Just a little over 100 years ago, the horrid conditions of its meatpacking factories were portrayed in the book The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which spurred the passing of the U.S. Meat Inspection Act of 1906. To see the renaissance of the city through this lens is to appreciate how far it has come in terms of sustainable urban food production.