Farming in abandoned warehouses has become a hot trend in the Midwest – with varying degrees of success – as more entrepreneurs worldwide experiment with indoor growing systems in attempts to grow more food locally.
The Aquaponics system is another innovative closed-loop system in which fish (Tilapia) produce ammonia-based waste that is filtered and broken down into nitrates. Those nitrates are used as nutrients for the hydroponic beds, thus cleaning the water and returning those nutrients to the fish. This aquaponics system solves the problems with aquaculture (too much waste) and hydroponics (needs nutrient inputs) by combining them and mimicking a natural ecosystem. The fish and vegetables are then sold to local food markets and restaurants.
Along with the aquaponics system, The Plant houses a beer brewery, a kombucha (fermented tea) brewery, a composting company, a company that creates vertical growing systems, and a mushroom farm. Waste from one business is used as food for another. For example, the spent distiller grains from the brewery will be fed to the tilapia and the solids from the tilapia waste are fed to the mushrooms.
The company is very committed to proving that its operation is not only sustainable, but profitable and replicable. The staff will soon put a business case study on their website and will also host seminars. The Plant is still very young. But it is proof that vertical farming can be a viable way to produce truly sustainable food.
See video here: http://youtu.be/zMBxJTQqnRI or learn more by going to http://www.plantchicago.com