The compost is then used in landscaping, horticulture and agriculture at other urban farms across Chicago.
The urban farming company — FarmedHere says it’s the largest vertical farm in the US — partnered with the Resource Center, a nonprofit environmental education organization, to establish the composting program. The Resource Center picks up the waste, turns it into compost and delivers it to other farms in the city.
Jolanta Hardej, CEO and cofounder of FarmedHere, says the composting program is a “closed-loop arrangement,” like the company’s reuse of water in its aquaponic grow systems.
Through a soil-free process that utilizes vertical farming technology, FarmedHere’s sustainable agriculture operation grows USDA certified organic greens in stacked grow beds, up to six high. 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.
FarmedHere sells its locally grown produce to Chicago grocery stores and restaurants. The company’s products include different types of basil, mint, baby arugula, petite green salad mixes and tomatoes.
In a 2013 cleantech predictions column for Environmental Leader, Kachan & Co. managing partner Dallas Kachan forecast leading agricultural companies will embrace new, clean agricultural science innovation such as vertical farming this year.
A year earlier, Kachan forecast increased venture investment in sustainable agriculture, and said that sharply rising food prices in 2006 and 2007, due to rising oil prices, were an example of why this sector would likely see cleantech advances.
Last summer, the worst US drought in 50 years, which has caused more damage than expected to corn and soybean crops, helped push the global food price index up 6 percent, according to a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Dry conditions continue this summer in much of the South and West.