A Look at Chicago’s Airport Urban Garden
The airport has also been home to a handful of honeybees being tended to by urban beekeepers
By Rick Paulas
March 21, 2013
The 928-square-foot garden, first opened last September, consists of 26 aeroponic towers that grow a variety of herbs and vegetables. The list of produce growing in the towers includes, but is not limited to, chard, basil, lettuce, edible flowers, bell peppers, and tomatoes. And just who is using these vegetables? Currently, three restaurants in the airport proper make regular treks to the garden to harvest produce for their dishes: Wolfgang Puck, Rick Bayless’s Tortas Fontera Grill, and the highly-acclaimed Wicker Park Sushi Bar.
“You get the kind of farm-to-table experience, if you would,” says Karen Pride, media relations director at O’Hare. “Fresher is better, and you can certainly tell the difference between fresh herbs, fresh lettuce, fresh peppers, and fresher ingredients than if they’re not.”
The produce is also used for a makeshift “farmers’ market,” located one level below the urban garden. There, weary travelers can buy packets of herbs, lettuce, tomatoes and other veggies that are grown mere feet from where they’re being sold. (Other items not grown in the airport, such as fruits, are sold alongside the herbs and veggies.) Which means that people flowing through Chicago’s biggest airport no longer have to rely on quick, easy, greasy and fattening meals during layovers. Now, they can chow down on more than just hot dogs and beer.