Solving Cities

O'Hare airport's new soil-less garden helps feed passengers

O'Hare airport's new soil-less garden helps feed passengers

Posting in Environment

Chicago's O'Hare airport is using open terminal space for a new aeroponic garden to supply restaurants in the airport with fresh produce.

Passengers at Chicago's O'Hare airport might be traveling all across the world, but their food won't travel far.

That's because a new 928-square-foot, soil-less, aeroponic urban garden will provide produce for many of the airport's restaurants, and an oasis for weary travelers.

An aeroponic garden works something like this: seeds are planted first in small cubes of ultra-nutritious volcanic rock, which holds in water and naturally biodegrades. When the plants grow to a certain size, they are moved to the vertical, aeroponic towers, where they sit under special lamps and undergo a regular watering cycle of 15 minutes, with 30 minutes between watering cycles. But the water is not wasted, it is recycled through the towers so that no water evaporates.

Check out this video of the O'Hare garden from ABC7 (Chicago) to see how it works:

What's great about the aeroponic system is that it provides food year around, it produces a lot of food in a small space, and you don't have to pull weeds. It might not provide food for all the restaurants yet, but it's a good symbol for how we can better use our open space, and airports have plenty of it. If all goes well, gardens might soon sprout up in your local terminal.

Photo: ABC7

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure