With the amount of real estate Whole Foods Market has amassed from its giant natural and organic supermarkets located across the country, you'd think at least one location would turn its rooftop into an organic garden and supply the store below with the freshest, local organic produce.While that hasn't happened…yet, the chain has announced that it has given a loan to support an urban organic farm project in Illinois.
FarmedHere—an aeroponic vertical farm operation in Illinois—is also the nation's first certified organic indoor aquaponic farm. The company has received a $100,000 loan from Whole Foods for their newest 90,000 square foot facility in Bedford Park, which will employ 200 people. The facility, although only 90,000 square feet on the ground, is capable of producing 150,000 square feet of food because of the vertical farming system. It is based on the combination of two systems: an aquaponic tilapia fish farming element, which supplies water and nutrients to the plant, grown vertically. The complimentary systems are designed to eliminate water runoff and preserve more than 97 percent of the fresh water used.
Whole Foods locations in the Illinois area have been selling produce from FarmedHere's other two locations since 2011-a 4,000 square foot operation in Englewood and a 10,000 square foot farm in Flanagan. The newest operation is estimated to produce more than 1 million pounds of fresh greens annually including mixed lettuce greens, watercress, basil and arugula. The new FarmedHere location will add tomatoes, peppers and strawberries as well.
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Image: Payton Chung