Aeroponics at O'Hare

O'Hare showcases urban gardening to educate travellers.

By Rachel Vigilante

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With the demand for fresh local produce on a upward spiral, so is the demand for growing space. And that, in turn, inspires innovation and invention. A good example of this forward-thinking approach is the Urban Garden at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. On the mezzanine level of one of the busiest airports in the world, travelers will find a 928-square-foot organic oasis that features nearly 50 kinds of vegetables and herbs. The technique that makes the indoor garden possible is aeroponics, a method of cultivating plants without soil but with a nutrient-rich solution that is misted onto their roots.

The process begins with seeds planted in small cubes of porous volcanic rock. Once the plants begin to grow, they are transferred to vertical aeroponic towers to sit under special lamps with their roots kept constantly moist. The nutrient solution is continuously recycled through the towers; absolutely nothing goes to waste during the process.

The O'Hare Urban Garden, designed by Florida-based firm Future Growing, is intended to preserve both land and resources while educating travelers about the benefits of aeroponics and food. Diners in four of the airport's restaurants can enjoy the ultimate in locally sourced ingredients, harvested just down the concourse.

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