Chicago isn't usually known as a farming hub, but did you know that Windy City residents are dining on organic produce such as basil, arugula, kale and microgreens right from their backyard?
FarmedHere, a 90,000-square-foot space in Bedford Park that opened in 2013, is not only the first organically-certified indoor vertical aquaponic farm in Illinois, it's also the largest indoor farm in North America.
"Our produce is local, it's healthy, it's organic and our produce is sold 24 hours from harvest date to our retailers," says former FarmedHere CEO and current chairman Mark Thomann in the video above.
FarmedHere's two-story, windowless farming facility currently sits on the site of a formerly abandoned warehouse in the outskirts of Chicago.
A variety of plants grow on racks that are stacked on top of each other in a vertical farming system, as well as an aquaponics system, which combines tilapia (and the fish's waste) and plants (which filter the waste) to grow food.
Want to learn the science behind our #aquaponic process? So simple it only took us a few minutes to map it out! http://t.co/m4Pw0ptEwl— FarmedHere (@FarmedHere)1429648098.0
FarmedHere's produce is grown in a sustainable environment where 97 percent of fresh water is reused and plants are grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides. The farm's LED lighting system mimics outdoor conditions, meaning plants don't need natural sunlight to grow.
According to PSFK, the company boasts "up to 15 times as many crop cycles a year compared to traditional farming" and supplies its harvest for approximately 80 retailers in Chicago.
The company says that total growing time is about 30 days, which is half the time of traditional farms.
"Our vertical growing technology and local distribution methods reduce energy use, travel time and costs tremendously, making this model one of the most sustainable ways to guarantee access to fresh, healthy produce in city centers, in any season," the company, which launched in 2010, advertises on its website.
The global population is expected to reach a staggering 10 billion by 2056 and there is only so much arable land available. Climate change is only confounding the problem, as extreme weather events such as flooding, hurricanes and drought increase in frequency and intensity, and leave a damaging impact on agriculture.
The beauty of indoor farms, which are sprouting up from Japan to Jackson, Wyoming, is that the plants growing inside are immune to hot, cold or extreme weather.
Although the weather outside is frightful, in here, it's always delightful! #HappyHolidays http://t.co/lHi94zFEXq http://t.co/3S2mZFqFli— FarmedHere (@FarmedHere)1418082453.0
If all goes according to plan, those of us outside of Illinois might get to enjoy FarmedHere's year-round, fresh-grown produce a lot closer to home.
At the Indoor Ag-Con held earlier this month in New York, newly appointed FarmedHere CEO Matt Matros announced ambitions for 18 new indoor farms spread across the country that could provide local (meaning less than 200 miles) produce for up to 75 percent of the country's population.
"We are not competing with each other, but with Central Valley agriculture" Matros said during his keynote speech.
"We want to create the Disneyland of vertical farming," he said.
Matros told Chicago Tribune that he hopes to expand to 12 to 15 farms across the U.S. within five years and eventually have farms around the world.
“Everything about this business is good, and it solves a really big problem,” Matros told the publication. “We’re going to have nine billion people in the world by 2050. What are we going to feed them?”
Matt Matros of @FarmedHere "we want to create the Disneyland of vertical farming" http://t.co/NoCerGZ2VF— Indoor Ag-Con (@Indoor Ag-Con)1444917500.0
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>