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World's Largest Organic Rooftop Farm Powered 100% by Renewables Opens in Chicago

Food

Brooklyn-based urban farming company Gotham Greens opened the world's largest rooftop farm in Chicago, the company announced Thursday.

Located in the historic Pullman area on Chicago's South Side, the farm is the company's fourth greenhouse facility and its first outside of New York. The 75,000-square-foot farm is located on top of a Method manufacturing facility, and is powered completely by renewable energy. The farm employs more than 50 people and "will produce nearly 10 million annual crops of local, premium-quality, pesticide-free, leafy greens and herbs," according to the company.

"With more than $1 billion in venture capital invested in the city in 2014, Chicago continues to emerge as the country's newest hot spot for innovation and growing companies," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Gotham Greens' expansion means even more jobs and investment in the Pullman neighborhood and through cutting-edge agricultural innovation, they will provide fresh, healthy and locally-grown foods to residents across Chicago."

The produce will be available in select markets around the Chicago area, including Whole Foods Market, Peapod, Treasure Island, Sunset Foods, Plum Market, Target and others. The company has also partnered with local institutions such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Greater Roseland West Pullman Food Network, Pilot Light, Chicago Botanical Garden's Windy City Harvest and more.

Thanks to "sophisticated computer control systems" that "continually adjust the greenhouse environment to ensure optimal growing conditions all year round," the farm is able to produce despite even the coldest of temperatures. "For Chicagoans, this means premium-quality, hyper-local produce that often hits store shelves and restaurant plates the very same day it's harvested, 365 days a year," Gotham Greens said in their press release.

There are numerous benefits to growing food this way in addition to year-round production. According to the company, their "proprietary growing methods" produce up to 30 times more crop per acre than field production. They claim their two-acre facility can produce yields equivalent to more than 50 acres of conventional field production.

And because Gotham Greens recycles all of its irrigation water, the company says, "it uses 10 times less water than conventional agriculture (while also eliminating all agricultural runoff—one of the leading causes of global water pollution)." Additionally, by growing and selling their food in Chicago, they drastically reduce the food waste and environmental footprint inherent in long-distance food transport.

At EcoWatch, we featured Gotham Greens when they announced that they were building the Chicago facility last year. We also featured them as one of six urban farms revolutionizing how food is grown. Its flagship facility in Brooklyn, built in 2010, was the first commercial scale rooftop greenhouse in the U.S., according to the company.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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