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Demonstrating the viability of sustainable concepts and practices in urban environments through research, education, and hands-on projects.

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UHC Lecture Series 2010 6) Farming Our Factories

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 · 6:30 PM

6. Farming Our Factories New Uses for Old Buildings

Lecture Summary

“This discussion will take you through the grassroots redevelopment of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, the trials and tribulations of working with the city and our plans for a 95,000 sq. ft. vertical farm and artisanal food business incubator. In partnership with Professor Blake Davis from the Illinois Institute of Technology, we are designing an efficient aquaponics system to raise organic produce and several varieties of fish. The plan hinges on re-use of a vacant industrial building and seeks to break new ground in job creation, fresh food production and sustainable renovation methods. With the addition of new lighting technologies, open-source systems and careful control of all energy use and production within the building, we hope to demonstrate that urban farming can be practical, profitable and commonplace.”

Lecturer’s Bio

John Edel is the owner and developer of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. As General Contractor, Edel took the facility from a burnt-out shell to 100% occupancy while using a mixture of waste-stream recycled materials and leading edge technology to make the building exceptionally energy efficient and pleasantly non-toxic. The renovation was assisted by a core group of volunteers and by bartering with suppliers, tenants and scrappers.

In previous careers, Edel taught computer graphics, designed sets for broadcast television, art directed video games and worked as a chef on private railroad cars. He has a lifelong dream of combining industrial preservation and plants in a productive, conservatory-like project. Edel is currently focused on redeveloping a former meatpacking plant in the Stockyards into a vertical farm.

Keep up with John and the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center by visiting their blog about The Plant, a project combining adaptive industrial reuse and aquaponics to create Chicago’s first vertical farm project in the historic Central Manufacturing District.


DATE: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
TIME: 6:30pm
LOCATION: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)

Learn more about our lectures

UHC Lecture Series

Downloadable content

Farming Our Factories (6.0 MB, PDF format)

2010_UHCLec_6_JohnEdel.mp3 (MPEG audio, 67.3 MB)

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