Monday, April 9, 2012

Vertical Farming in a City Near You!

I just read about 312 Aquaponics, a startup vertical farm in Chicago in the process of starting microgreen and tilapia operations. They are trying to get licensing issues worked out to get up and running and plan to be market-ready this summer. I'm so happy to see someone is actualizing the concepts presented by Dickson Despommier in his book "The Vertical Farm" for growing local food, repurposing defunct industrial properties, and creating jobs. It's a very interesting and exciting concept that will provide solutions to a variety of social and public problems. And it seems to be catching on.

Another urban aquaponics operation, Sweet Water Organics, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was operational in 2010 with the same type of business. They raise yellow perch, tilapia, and blue gill fish, vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and squash, plus mushrooms and greens such as lettuces, basil, watercress, swiss chard, and sprouts.

Dickson Despommier discusses both rescuing abandoned urban properties and building specifically-designed facilities for vertical farms. Growing food in urban facilities creates sustainable solutions with some very attractive advantages such as chemical-free food production and year-round growing operations free from the whims of mother nature. I hope to see more of these kinds of vertical farms in Illinois in the very near future. We can use some of the advantages of urban vertical farming in our state.

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