Recycling's good for posts too, right?

HydroponicsOver the weekend I’d had a discussion with Ron May of The May Report about Hydroponics. He’d seen a thing on TV that touched on it, and was wanting more info on the subject … and figured I might be able to help him out.

As is his general M.O., he simply printed my note to him in Monday’s report. After it came out, I had a couple of people tell me “hey, that would make a great post for Green Tech Chicago!” … so the following is pretty much a cut-and-paste of the main part of what I’d sent him:

Hydroponics –

The one that’s currently most dramatic (as I believe it’s the largest such project in the country) is “Farmed Here” which recently opened over in Bedford Park (just SW of Midway) … … a bunch of stories are linked from

There are a couple of hydroponic operations running at The Plant … … including Greens & Gills: … SkyyGreens: … and The Urban Canopy:

There are three main types of this stuff, which can be a bit confusing:

Hydroponics: Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, mineral wool, expanded clay pebbles or coconut husk.

Aquaponics: Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines conventional aquaculture, (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks), with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In aquaculture, effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. This water is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are broken down by nitrogen fixing bacteria, then filtered out by the plants as nutrients, after which the cleaned water is recirculated back to the animals.

Aeroponics: Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium.

What the guys next to the worm biz over at The Plant are doing is Aquaponics, where the “fish water” from the Tilapia tanks is circulated through to feed the plants in their Hydroponics racks. The guys around the corner are doing just Hydroponics, without the fish.

When I mentioned the “mist” thing, I was referring to the system they have set up down at “The Land” pavilion at EPCOT, which is Aeroponics (see I don’t believe there is anybody actively working with this system locally, however (there was one started at O’Hare a couple of years ago: but I don’t know if that’s still in operation).

Some stories about The Plant, etc.:


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  • I love seeing the industry grow. I hadn't even heard of aeroponics before reading this. How do the fish control the release of the food to the plants?

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