From Slaughterhouse to Sustainable Sanctuary: Chicago’s The Plant

The vertically-integrated farm aims to produce "net-zero waste"

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(Photo by: The Plant)

Updated Jul 11, 2017 @ 10:56 am

There are a few ways Chicago’s The Plant describes itself: part vertical farm, part research and education space, part food business incubator. Also in its description? Former meatpacking plant.

Once a 93,500-square-foot slaughterhouse, the brick Union Stock Yard building now lies at the other end of the spectrum, serving as the Windy City’s first entirely self-sustaining vertical farm with hopes of going off the grid in the next four years. It will produce “net-zero waste” through a complex eco-system comprised of a tilapia fish farm, aquaponic farms, a mushroom garden, and beer and kombucha tea breweries The beer brewery’s spent grains, for example, will feed the tilapia, function as soil to grow mushrooms and as fuel for an anaerobic digester, which uses biodegradable matter to generate energy.

Funded in part by $1.5 million in grant money from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, The Plant is dedicated to helping the human population, too. Low rent and a shared, licensed kitchen will be available to small businesses, and 125 jobs will be created within the low income community.

While the building is still being renovated by a host of volunteers, tours are held every Monday, Thursday and Saturday for the general public at 2pm (reservations are not necessary). For more information, click here.

Images courtesy of The Plant.