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Future Of Farming—Indoors And In The City

CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) --Vertical farming is a growing trend. It’s a system that lets farmers produce crops and livestock indoors. Proponents say they’re saving buildings, creating jobs and helping the environment.

Carla McGarrah grew up on a farm. But the one she manages now is much different. In aquaponic farm crops grow in water, not dirt. Fish replace cattle and instead of outside, it’s in an abandoned meat packing plant in the center of Chicago.

“I live in a neighborhood like this one that doesn’t have very good access to local produce we have tons of vacant land and underused buildings or empty buildings,” Carla McGarrah told Ivanhoe.

John Edel bought the building to build a vertical farm. Most produce has to travel to get to grocery stores– an average of 1,500 miles – and produce loses many nutrients and flavor during the trip. Vertical farms reduce the distance and time, which means healthier food, less pollution in the air, and less wasting of our natural resources. Aquaponics is a combination of aqua culture (growing fish in tanks) with hydroponics (growing plants in water). The crops get nutrients from fish waste and the water continuously circulates providing oxygen to the tilapia and plants.

“The mantra here at the plant is nothing leaves but food no waste leaves the facility only food leaves,” John Edel, the Owner and developer of The Plant Chicago told Ivanhoe.

Edel says he got a grant to take the farm off the grid, which will save on energy costs.

“The digester will make bio gas which will be burnt in a turbine. In our case it’s a recycled military fighter jet engine that’s being remanufactured and repurposed that will power the facility,” Edel said.

They say they have the system under control and the ability to monitor it remotely. Edel says he wants to sell the fish as food too – which would be a first.

“We’re pushing boundaries in a lot of ways here,” Edel concluded.

Which makes rolling in to work everyday a new adventure for this urban farm girl.

If you think this sounds a bit far-fetched or crazy, you may want to think again. Bloomberg Business Week just named vertical farming one of the top 20 businesses of the future!

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John Edel
The Plant

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Prior Reports
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