Inside Peek at O’Hare Airport’s Vertical Farm

January 23, 2012 by

Photo: Future Growing

After traveling a lot for the majority of my career, airport delays are usually not something I get excited about. However, a recent (cancelled) trip from Columbus, Ohio to my home in Chicago (and a resulting wait for delayed luggage) gave me the opportunity to visit the new urban garden in O’Hare Airport.

Photo: LaManda Joy

Set in a seemingly unused nook of the G Terminal, a mezzanine space has been transformed into a high-tech urban garden. I see a lot of projects like this one – usually they have a DIY vibe that is quite inspiring (hey, even I could do that!) This urban garden however looked like it came out of a ride at Disney.

Photo: Future Growing

The genius behind the O’Hare installation is Future Growing LLC, the same company responsible for the amazing rooftop garden that fuels the kitchens of New York City restaurant, Bell, Book and Candle, where I dined on a recent visit to that city.

Photo: Future Growing

A series of vertical PVC towers with high-powered (“wear your sunglasses” high-powered) lights grow a variety of herbs, greens, edible flowers and a few tomato plants. Signage shows where the produce will end up–Wolfgang Puck at the airport seemed to be a major end user.

Edible flowers on one tower, and on the other, lettuce ready to package for the airports restaurants. Photo: Future Growing

Water receptacles under the towers house pumps that manage recirculation of water and nutrients. The towers are set on casters so they spin for easy maintenance and harvest.

Photo: LaManda Joy

What looks like the most comfortable chairs in the airport are set up around the installation with tables to create a park-like setting. Between the view of the runways and the “sunny” urban garden I now know where I’ll be killing time for the next delayed flight.

LaManda Joy

About Our Guest Author
LaManda Joy ‘s name is so appropriate for her–she really is a joy–as well as creative, industrious, and passionate about her vision. She is founder of The Peterson Garden Project, a successful modern day Chicago Victory Garden, and she also chronicles the joys of her home edible urban garden via The Yarden. LaManda is a Master Gardener and edible garden advocate who wants everyone she meets to grow their own food… seriously!

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