Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chicago O'Hare Airport's Urban Garden

Since there are no direct flights from Ft. Wayne to anywhere except Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit and a few other larger airports, just about anytime I want to fly someplace, I have to connect through one of those large cities. On this trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, to attend the second annual Garden2Blog event hosted by P. Allen Smith, my connection was through Chicago.

As I went from Concourse G to Concourse H between Terminals 2 and 3, I passed by something I'd not seen at O'Hare the last time I was there. I looked up on the open second level and noticed a unique vertical garden. I had just a little time between flights, so I walked up the stairs to check it out. I snapped some photos and made a note to do some research online the next chance I got.

O'Hare Urban Garden is located on the mezzanine level between Terminals 2
and 3 in the rotunda.

The Urban Garden at O'Hare (also known as The O'Hare Eco-Farm) opened last September and consists of 26 aeroponic towers in a 928-square-foot garden.

It's not a garden in the usual sense of growing plants in soil. Seeds are germinated in volcanic rock, then transplanted to the towers where they are fed with a nutrient-rich solution. The herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers are harvested and used by several of the airport's restaurants, such as Wicker Park and Tortas Fronterra.

The garden is the first of its kind and is a joint effort by the Chicago Department of Aviation and HMSHost, which owns and operates many of the airport's food concessions. The eight-foot towers each contain 44 plant ports and collectively hold over 1100 plants. They are designed by Florida-based Future Growing LLC.

It's a bright spot in the airport, in more ways than one. The lighting itself is one thing, but to see fresh vegetables and other edibles growing inside, knowing that they're food for patrons on-site is an innovative use of space. There are tables and comfortable chairs surrounding the garden, where airport travelers can relax during layovers.

The greatest benefits come from the reduced space used by gardening vertically and by virtually eliminating transportation costs to get the food to the table. Crops can be grown year-round and harvested food is fresher and more nutritious both because of the way they're grown and the fact that they have such a short distance to travel to their final destination - a matter of yards.

Kudos to all involved for the creation of this unique urban garden!


Kari Lønning said...

I went on a behinds the scenes tour in Disney World a couple of years ago and saw how they were growing their own veggies using these towers. Wonderful to see!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Wow, you just never know where you will run into a garden. This is most interesting.

Amy Junod said...

This is really cool to see! I too saw Disney's hydroponic gardens years ago. It's so neat to see it in this type of environment.

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

So cool! I love that they're doing this at an airport. It makes so much sense and it provides a unique educational opportunity. I'm so glad you posted this.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the excellent posts!

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