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Chicago nb. 4: Plant Chicago - incorporating aquaponics into closed loops and circular economy

Napisano: 10. 05. 2016 21:49

By: dr. Maja Turnsek Hancic

Previously I’ve introduced  the aquaponics system in Plant Chicago. But there is much more to the Plant and deserves a description of its own.

The Plant is located in an area of Chicago named Back of the Yards. Until 1970’s this was a mostly a Slavic community, now it is largely Chicano community with a minority of African Americans.

For more than 100 years this was the main meat processing and distribution area of the U.S.A.  – at its heyday 82 % of all meat that was produced in the States was butchered, processed and distributed from here. I imagine a lot of meat, blood, pollution and horrible working conditions.  ( will definelty read the Sinclair’s the Jungle while I am here!).

This meat-packaging industry slowly withered away, leaving the area with a number of vacant old buildings and the community looking for ways to diminish the traditional poverty and economic decline. Plant Chicago, a non-profit organization, is one of the brave and important steps towards this goal.

The Plant Chicago: Closing the loops

The Plant Chicago closing the Loops

The Plant used to be a meat smoking and packaging plant owned by Peer Foods from 1925 to 2001.  In 2011 the old vacant meat packaging building was bought by Bubbly Dynamics. This is owned by John Edel’s company that previously similarly refurnished the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center.

The building is slowly but surely being transformed into a hub for food businesses, with a specific vision: to develop circular economies of food production, energy conservation and material reuse.

The idea is great:  to provide a space for small artisan food businesses, have a common shop and common food market and create synergies in closing loops in waste, energy and materials.

Bike a Bee and Jonathan from The Plant – admiring the new bee queens that will live at the Plant’s rooftop

Bike a Bee

For example, spent grain from the brewery goes to the aquaponics to feed the fish and the coffee chafe to the mushroom farmer.

Currently, the building provides room for these food industry tenants:

Plant Chicago

The Salty Prawn

The Urban Canopy

Whiner Beer Company

New Magnolia Garden Center

Patchwork Farms

Pleasant Farms

Pleasant House Bakery

Arize Komboucha

Bike a Bee

Four Letter Word Coffe

Fruiting Mushrooms

Great American Cheese Collection





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