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Farming on water: Stackable, sustainable, in the city

Former meatpacking plant poised to become aquaponic farm, with startup food firms, brewery planned
Melissa Harris

John Edel is turning a former meatpacking plant on the edge of Chicago’s old Union Stockyards into an indoor farm.

In the basement, microorganisms are eating tilapia waste, converting it into fertilizer for the lettuce, kale and wheatgrass growing in a shallow pool of water nearby.

This process is called aquaponic farming. It minimizes water use while allowing year-round harvests, and it’s just the beginning of Edel’s vision for a futuristic, urban farm he has called “The Plant.”

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