The largest urban rooftop farm in the world is thriving in a city that’s typically one of the coldest spots in the U.S. — Chicago.
No matter though: The 75,000-square-foot farm, bigger than a city block, is also the world’s largest greenhouse. So it gets all the natural light and none of the snow, sleet, and slush the city is well known for. When you see these cheerful, lush photos, you’ll probably want to move in.
Run by Gotham Greens, which first launched greenhouses in New York (this is its fourth!), the massive farm sits atop a soap factory on Chicago’s South Side. The plan, as co-founder Viraj Puri told Fast Co, is to help supply more than a million pounds of leafy greens and herbs to local stores every year.
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Puri believes that crops grown under natural lighting are superior (Gotham Greens is currently participating in a study it says will back up these claims), and that he thinks a network of urban farms may eventually replace a large portion of perishable foods (lettuce, for example) that are usually transported across the country to cities like Chicago.
“I think we’ve been able to prove this model that commercial-scale local agriculture can be done profitably,” says Puri. “There’s this growing consumer demand for locally grown produce in terms of quality, nutrition, there’s all the other macro trends we’re seeing in places like California with the drought, and long distance transportation. So it seemed to us if this model is successful in New York City, why can it not also be successful in large metropolitan areas?”
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