If you attended the Good Food Festival & Conference this past March you might recognize Barbara Weeks’s gorgeous artwork: her sketch of ruby-red, farm-fresh radishes adorned our “I’m Your Farmer” buttons at the Festival! We are just smitten with her whimsical watercolors, especially her sketches of local food, chefs, and farmers. We are excited to bring you the second post in an ongoing series: Urban Sketcher Meets Local Farmer.
Post by Barbara Weeks
From Meatpacking Plant to Growing Plants
A couple of Saturdays ago this urban sketcher left her studio to visit an urban farm! Tucked away in an old meatpacking plant in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago there is a fascinating place called The Plant. Their name is a play on both the space’s old use and it’s new one: a dedicated team is working to repurpose the old meatpacking plant into a vertical farm (I love that term) and food business operation.
When it is fully operational, which should be within a few years, one-third of The Plant will be an aquaponic farm system. This system uses plant waste to nourish fish, and fish waste to nourish plants: a full circle! The fish in tanks produce ammonia-based waste that is broken down into nitrates that are fed to the plants growing in water beds. The plants absorb the nitrates and clean the water. The water the goes back to the fish. The idea is to sell both the fish, and the vegetables to local markets and restaurants. The other two-thirds of the building will house sustainable food businesses, some of which have already moved in.
This is just a hint of what is planned. Right now there’s a bakery (Peerless Bread and Jam or PB& J for short), a kombucha brewery (Arize Kombucha), a mushroom farm and the aquaponics operation have begun. There’s also an outdoor garden and a rooftop farm (The Urban Canopy). The Plant will have a renewable energy system that will use more than 10,000 tons of food waste each year from their own business tenants as well as landfills to meet the building’s energy requirements. About 125 jobs will be created in the space once it is fully occupied. There are retail, restaurant, and shared commercial kitchen spaces planned.
Tours are scheduled every Saturday, so… Go, take the tour – see the future and be inspired and amazed!
Barbara Weeks is a member of Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers-Midwest and Urban Sketchers-Chicago. One of the missions of Urban Sketching is to “show the world one drawing at a time,” while promoting the educational and storytelling value of location sketching. She teaches private sketching and journaling classes that use watercolor and sketching to record daily life. You can see more of her work at http://barbaraweeks.blogspot.com/.
Barbara is the founder of Remarque Paperworks, a company dedicated to personal and corporate design. As a graphic designer, she combines two decades of experience in art direction and production in the magazine publishing industry with her ability to capture the essence of a client’s project and translate it into effective visual solutions. Remarque also produces a line of greeting cards and invitations.