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!

  • Diane

    This is so cool! Where exactly is terminal G? Next time I go to the airport, I need to see this.

  • Sylvia Walker

    I love this idea, but with all those lights, I’m concerned about the amount of energy that is being used. A solar or renewable source? I hope!

  • Rebecca

    This is probably one of the most amazing things! I hope other airports catch on.

  • Annie Haven | Authentic Haven Brand

    Wonderful to see

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  • Darlene

    This is fabulous! It would be great if all buildings had indoor gardens.

  • Robin Plaskoff Horton

    Good question Sylvia…I would like to find the answer.

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  • Natalie Zaranti Lazear

    They are Tower Gardens. I can sell you some or one if you’d like. Please visit my sister company website for information. Once there, send me an email and I will get you more information on the Tower Garden

  •!/romigontheroad Romig

    Absolutely stunning. Beautiful. I wish more businesses would do things like this.

  • Kathryn

    What an awesome garden! I love it that the vegetables are all used at the airport.

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  • Eric

    I do vertical gardening in my community garden by growing 70+ 6ft+ tall heirloom tomatoes 1.5″x 1.5″ feet apart heavily pruned and tied to 8ft 2×2″steaks. We use 10″ PVC for subterainian worm farms but it prohibitive due to the high cost of PVC. What is the material, does it leach and how much does it cost per foot or do you buy these as complete kits? Now I think I should read the article.

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  • http://youtube,com/highriseagriculture Professor Gravity

    They stole my idea. I discovered this type of agriculture system many years ago. They are taking credit for something that they did nor discover and I demand they stop immediately!!

    Here is a link to my product for all to see that these people are nothing but rip-offs:

    I did not only discover these types of tubular agriculture systems, but I also discovered several different other types:


    Professor Gravity

  • Kiven White

    Wow! Pretty. I like these. Thanks for

  • frank

    best place to hang out in Ohare…. its funny, no guest knows of this place, however ALL the pilots and attendants know of it because its so quiet and theres a lot of Comfy Chairs :) theres a nice bar below it too

  • Robin Horton

    Ah, Professor Gravity, so many great minds think alike!

  • Robin Horton

    Thanks for the tip Frank! Next time I have a layover at O’Hare, I will check out that bar. :-)

  • Robin Horton

    There is a link in the post to the manufacturer, Future Growing, of these particular vertical gardens. I know there are few similar designs out there as well. They say they are made of food safe plastic.

  • Robin Horton

    Thank Kathryn, I agree!

  • Robin Horton


  • Robin Horton

    Can’t agree with you more Darlene.

  • Robin Horton

    Thanks Annie!!

  • Robin Horton

    I’d love to se this at other airports.

  • Robin Horton

    I don’t know, but I’m sure the airport’s website has a map of the terminals.

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  • Andreas

    That is fantastic! Can someone give me the adress where I can buy the plant bucket? I want to use it in my restaurant

  • Pei Kang

    fantastic idea! every airport should have this

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