food soil sustainability

Urban garden.. located between Terminals 2 & 3?!

This is so great! Urban garden at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

The Aviation Department cut the ribbon on the world’s first aeroponic garden in an airport on Friday. In the G Concourse of Terminal 2 at O’Hare, different varieties of lettuce, hot peppers and herbs are growing. They’re sprouting from 26 towers under special grow lights and using an irrigation system that runs inside the 8-foot tall white structures and recycles the water not absorbed.

Elie Maalouf & Rosemarie Andolino

The harvest, which comes about once a month, will be used in four restaurants at the airport, according to Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino. President and CEO Elie Maalouf says this meets traveler’s demands for fresh local produce.

During the aeroponic process, seeds are planted first in small cubes of nutrient-dense spun volcanic rock, which holds in water and naturally biodegrades. Once the plants are a certain size, they are transferred to the horizontal, aeroponic towers, where they sit under special lamps and undergoing a regular watering cycle of 15 minutes, with 30 minutes between watering cycles. The water used is recycled through the towers so that no water evaporates or is wasted. Once the produce is ready to be harvested, the remaining plant stubs will regenerate and grow more produce.

Some interesting facts about the garden:

  • Garden provides year-round cultivation
  • Can produce a higher yield per square foot
  • Requires no weed pulling
  • Garden uses about two-thirds less water
  • Towers are 8 feet tall with a 30-inch diameter base
  • Additional produce includes sweet basil, purple basil, dill, parsley, chives, gourmet lettuce mix, Habanero peppers, edible viola flowers, edible nasturtium flowers, thyme, oregano, red lettuce and green beans
  • Aeroponic, very similar to hydroponic farming, is becoming increasingly popular around the world for farming in limited space


3 replies on “Urban garden.. located between Terminals 2 & 3?!”

Nice idea, but certainly not organic nor climate friendly. How much fertilizer is needed? Is this sustainable?

Sorry I have my cynical hat on today….

hey shaggy,

i would agree, not organic as i’m sure a lot of chemicals go into producing so many crops a year…

but surely the fact that this setup is in the airport would reduce carbon miles?

and in terms of nutrients and taste, do you know if aeroponics would be on a par with soil-grown produce?

I like the idea of a growing tower, as this is a great use of space. Just wish that they had sited the towers in an outside position / a position which received natural sunlight / fresh air.

But, this reminds me of something which has been developed in the US of A called the Waterboxx. It’s application (supposedly specifically for arid regions i.e. the desert) can be seen here:

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