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Waste Not
Largest Vertical Farm in the US Becomes Zero Organic Waste Facility

Chicago land-based vertical farm FarmedHere, has launched a program to convert all of its organic waste into compost used to feed other urban farms across Chicago.

Through a unique soil-free process that utilizes vertical farming technology, FarmedHere grows USDA certified organic greens that the company says are healthier, tastier, and fresher than traditionally farmed produce. Stacked grow beds – up to six high – are used to create vertical growing space. Instead of soil, water from tanks of hormone-free tilapia delivers nutrients to the plants through either an aquaponic or aeroponic system. These systems are combined with controlled water pressure, humidity and atmospheric pressure to create optimal growing conditions.

To achieve zero waste, FarmedHere partnered with The Resource Center, a non-profit environmental education organization that provides services and programs throughout the city of Chicago, including urban gardening, recycling, composting, and hazardous waste disposal.

"I'm happy to work with a farm with a similar vision: local, healthy & organic,” said Kevin Dunn, founder of The Resource Center. “Composting the organic waste we receive from FarmedHere provides nutrients for our very own City Farm.”

FarmedHere says the compost will be used in landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. Being rich in nutrients, compost is a key component in organic farming. Farmers use it as a fertilizer, soil amendment, and as a natural pesticide.

"We have been searching for an optimal solution to our organic waste since the inception of our new farm in 2012,” said Jolanta Hardej, the CEO and co-founder of FarmedHere. “Ken Dunnand his Resource Center is a perfect fit. They provide a superior service, pick up our waste and turn it into compost, which feeds other farms in the city. It is a 'closed loop' arrangement, just like the reuse of water in FarmedHere aquaponic grow systems.”

FarmedHere says it has been selling its locally grown produce to Chicago grocery stores and restaurants since 2011. The company’s line of products includes different types of basil, mint, baby arugula, petite green salad mixes, and tomatoes.

In New York, Whole Foods earlier this year partnered with Gotham Greens to construct the country’s first commercial-scale greenhouse farm integrated within a retail grocery space in Brooklyn. Gotham Greens will design, build and operate the 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, which will farm pesticide-free produce year round for the Whole Foods store in Gowanus, Brooklyn, as well as other Whole Foods locations throughout New York City. The greenhouse will utilize advanced irrigation systems that use up to 20 times less water than conventional farming along with enhanced glazing materials and electrical equipment to reduce overall energy demand.

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