Did you know there's a farm on top of McCormick Place?

Did you know there's a farm on top of McCormick Place?
My daughter Molly and I at the farm on top of McCormick Place

You would never guess in a million years that this picture was taken on the roof of the West Building at McCormick Place.

At a farm.

There's a 20,000 square foot, multi-level farm--they call it a garden, but that's ridiculous--on the McCormick Place roof.  A full-fledged working vegetable farm on the roof of McCormick Place!  A group of us walked over there today from the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance's farmers' market--held every Thursday at Second Presbyterian Church at Michigan and Cullerton--to see it.

And we saw a huge farm that supplies all the restaurants and caterers at McCormick Place with food.

Conventioneers eat freshly grown veggies from the roof when they are at conventions at McCormick Place.  And McCormick Place doesn't let them forget it because it helps Chicago when competing for the corporate meetings.  Fresh veggies are important to people from all over the country these days.

McCormick Place--with the help of the Chicago Botanic Garden, which makes its own agricultural chemicals for cleaning the vegetables, discouraging insects, etc.--can grow up to 12,000 pounds of food on its roof annually.  Compost is used, too.  And a shell-based soil.  The compost is made up of at least 50 percent coffee grounds.  (There's a lot of coffee served at a convention center like McCormick Place; it's the 2nd largest convention center in the world and they use the grounds wisely).

Here is a link with an interesting story, picture and video about it.

The food output provides everything from kale to eggplant to swiss chard. There's honey from beekeeping, too.  And climbing bines of hops that are donated for McCormick Place beer made at a brewery in Bourbonnais.

There's also tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and several spices and herbs. Nasturtiums and mums, too.

And a view of the two sites being developed across the street:  the new DePaul basketball venue and a new Marriott hotel.


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