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Aquaponic Farm with Fish & Vegetables at a Former Meat Packing Factory at Plant Chicago

Aquaponic Farm with Fish & Vegetables at a Former Meat Packing Factory at Plant Chicago


This is John Kohler with growingyourgreens.com
with another exciting episode for you today, we’re here in Chicago and I noticed on the
field trip we’re at West 46 Street and Bishop. The plant. The plant is actually a place that
grows food underground actually in the basement at present time, this is actually an old site
of a meat packing plant so I think it’s Peer meat
packing, they used to basically pack meat, smoked meat all kinds of stuff.
I never thought in my growing experience and my growing teaching and teaching people how
to grow foods that I’d be coming to a meat packing
plant especially an industrial meat packing plant at that.
Anyways this building was built in the 1920s and then in about 2006 it was believed
they were shut down through the USDA because it’s a pretty old building.
So because it was shut down it was available for sale then it was purchase and there was
a lot of resources in that building that can be reused, it was a USDA certified facility
for many years, including stainless steel and
all kinds of different material on the inside as well it’s also very well insulated.
The guy that bought the building has real great goals for the building, he wants to
basically turn this and make this a net-zero energy.
So basically he wants to produce all the energy on-site with a special generator and
a bio-gas digester. That’s going to be really impressive once
it all gets finished but right now they’re going through their deconstruction and reconstruction
of the building in to different areas. So there’s going to be many different areas
of the building, this is on a 3 acre site. The yard behind me you can see is going to
be all raise bed and hoop house gardens and row
crops in the future, they’re going to add a green house on to part of the building.
They’re going to then rent out commercial kitchens to people and they’re going to have
other areas, breweries they’re going to add and another area that’s going to be for other
companies growing hydroponically, growing in-doors.
So I think this is a great vision, what I’m here today to do is to go on the tour that
they give. They give the tour on certain days of the
week, costs $10, you come see the place, the old meat packing plant.
You get to see some of the work that they’re doing but also get to see some aquaponics
that are growing down in the basement.
That’s what I’m primarily interested in today aside from the goals that they’re going to
do that is amazing.
They’ve got some stuff that they’re growing and they’re going to be growing hopefully
a lot more really soon. Anyways, let’s head in to the building and
go on that tour. When you arrive for the tour whilst you’re
waiting for the tour to start, you’ll be in this little area.
In this area they have a whole bunch of the different plans and mock ups of how things
are going to go in the different areas of the plant.
This is actually the yard area which they hope to turn into basically vegetable buildings.
With hoop houses to grow in the winter time. So the tour is about to start now, I’m not
allowed to film on the tour but I’ll come back at you and share with you the growth
areas and some of the things about the tour that I learn here for fun.
On the tour here you’ll see many different areas of the plant or this old meat packing
place. It can definitely be a little bit spooky in
some of these areas. You’ll hear about all the different plans
and different things they’re going to do with this old meat processing plant.
Next let’s head towards the light. [laughs]
Let’s head downstairs to see where they’re actually growing some food on site.
Let’s head downstairs to find out what’s happening down here now once again this is an
old meat packing plant, there’s many areas that are currently being refurbished,
from its intended use. This billboard is actually quite cold, I’d
probably use the word dank that I don’t often use.
Here’s the door that leads to the aquaponic system.
Aquaponics what that basically is it’s a combination of agriculture and hydroponics.
It’s a system that actually works very nice, you can see it over there.
They’ve got the main growth area there then they’ve got the fish up in here and the tank
to settle out the wastes. I will look at that in a second but before
that I want to show you guys over here I think they’re using 2 different kinds of
fish here, one of which is tilapia, this is just the fish down here showing what they
look like, they like to hang out in the cover of the PVC.
I guess when the tilapias are breeding they put the small baby fish in to a smaller aquarium
here. Because if the tilapias are babies and they’re
not big enough they don’t work properly in the system, they’ll go down the drain or
something weird. So there’s some small ones in there and natural
algae there in that fish tank. How this system works is based on fish, the
fish produce waste and the waste is then filtered in this section and filtered waste goes over
to feed the plants and then the clean water after
the plants take out the nutrients go back over in to the fish, big fish tanks.
These are actually probably about 300 gallons, approximately totes.
You could find these totes on craigslist depending on where you live for about $100.
They’re just using these totes, they’re already basically ready to go.
All they need to do is cut off the tops of them and you can see here they’ve just cut
out the top and put some PVC pipe and tubing in, hooked
up to this network of piping to pump water through it.
You can see all the fish down in there and there’s a certain number of fish
you’re supposed to put per gallon of the tank, I’m not exactly sure how much that is.
Looks like they’re starting to feed the fish some of the greens they grew but the fish
are attracted to the fish food. That’s the one component that occurs really,
fish food to feed the fish hopefully they hope to
grow their own fish food and use some grains from the brewery that will be on site.
This one has a smaller fish and over in this one some more fish as well.
You can see they have just banks and banks on an elevated platform with banks and banks
of tanks. So once again this one was the side with the
fish and we can twist over to this side, this side is where they are actually filtering
the water, so the water probably goes up into this top thing, then gravity feeds them
in to this next layer where there is some kind
of filtration media which we can’t really see too well then it goes into here where
the water is then filtered out, so all the solids remain
in these tanks. The water goes into these pipes, these are
the solid water pipes for fish tanks 1 & 2. You can see all the piping around here, they
have little ramps over the piping and the piping
then goes into this big large growing area and basically in this growing are there’s
just some simple rafts, this is some foam here that
you can lift up and you can see all the roots there,
because the roots are absorbing the nutrients from the water then they’re growing all this
and all this is arrivla, this is literally like pretty large, maybe 12 feet by about
36-40 feet long. All this arrivla growing here in the basement,
need fluorescent tube lights. Now to me as an outdoor gardener, these plants
look a little bit in anemic. They could be a little bit more darker green
and they are curly. They’re developing and working on this system,
they strive to improve this system to get the healthiest plants possible and
also make this system a system that is going to work
and be sustainable in the long run. Because they are in the warehouse and in the
basement they have some fans going to keep the air
circulating, air circulation is very important to keep the pests and things like mold from
latching on and growing. You can see this growing area is just built
out of 2 by 4 and 4 by 4 posts and some plastics and plywood underneath.
This is just basically a box with an open top and then they put some plastic in there
and staple, they’ve nailed it down to make it water proof, with all the piping and what
not. This is the water that is coming from the
fish tanks. You can see in this one they’re using some
LED lights, that may look pretty interesting on
the camera there, over in that area it looks like they’ve got some sinus or kale, some
kind of other brassicas, things like arruvunal are
growing really well. The LED lighting looks like it’s doing a lot
better than the fluorescent lighting, especially by the size of that dinosaur kale, it’s probably
pushing 2 feet tall right there. This is their seed storing area to produce
this much arruvala they have to have lots of
plants started, they’re doing it right here under the LED lights now the LED lights
are more efficient way of lighting. It’s actually the GlowPanel lights, you can
see here they’re just seeding all this in I think
a hydroton and coconut core mixture. These guys get started in here and then soon
enough they’ll be moved over in this full styrofoam
flat over to the other side when they’re ready. So this is kind of a conveyer belt system.
They’ll put them in here as babies and then they’ll harvest for morning or just move all
these down and then they continue to grow on a revolving
system. We’re finally done with the tour, I’m heading
our and I’ve had a great time, an experience to share with you guys what they’re doing
here. It’s a really nice day here in Chicago today,
it’s actually a lot nicer outside than it is inside.
Once again that building has like 3 inches of insulation on the walls after the brick
and there’s insulation because its a meat packing
place they kept it really cold so they’re doing
some great work here, they have actually a really large vision.
Not growing so much stuff yet but hopefully in the future they’ll be growing a lot more
stuff. If you’re in the Chicago area you might want
to come by and do a tour of the plant. See the long-term vision but also see some
aquaponics going on in the basement. This is definitely a unique place and I wish
them the best in the future. I definitely want to come back in about 5
years when they’re all finished. When they’ve got it all built out this place
is going to be absolutely amazing. I believe this is an excellent use for, or
re-use of old industrial buildings here in Chicago,
and also around the world. Once again my name is John Kohler with growingyourgreens.com,
we’ll see you next time and remember – keep on growing.

100 thoughts on “Aquaponic Farm with Fish & Vegetables at a Former Meat Packing Factory at Plant Chicago

  1. Huge Electric bills ? Man Oh Man No thank you . I would rather set this up above ground or at least let the sun grow my plants . Sorry but this all looks counter intuitive .

  2. @Donald, Most home aquaponics systems are in a small greenhouse. This is obviously a commercial setup, so they're making money to pay those electric bills. Otherwise I agree, it'd be crazy- not to mention the humidity that could promote mold in a wood framed house.

  3. In many part of the country there are empty textile plants, factories, warehouses and old shopping centers/plaza's sitting empty. What an opportunity to set up aquaponic systems in many of these places and help with food shortages that is an ever growing global problem.
    I see the possibilities as a win win win situation by reusing empty buildings to make an income and feed people.. And now with LED lighting becoming ever more affordable this just makes sense. Not mention creating jobs etc.

  4. I think this is a good example of how not to do it. There's only one crop it's economically feasible to grow with grow lights and it aint what he was growing! Burning many dollars per hour just on the lights, very deep pockets needed to still be running. Any update on this project?

  5. Amazing. So do you know how the aquaponics work? Like how exactly does nitrogen/ammonia process work with each other?

  6. No, not details – just the general idea/outlay. Basically the fish eat protein, which contains fixed nitrogen – they degrade some of that protein to saccharides for energy, and release ammonia as waste into the water (like humans have urea in their urine). The ammonia is then available to the plants (which require nitrogen to grow as a macronutrient). The amounts produced by the fish and the amounts needed by the plants are things I do not know….

  7. Still cool! So basically fish poop feeds the plants around it no matter what? And then doesn't bacteria grow maybe not in the water but in the pipes used for aquaponics? I think if I heard correctly the nitrogen or the ammonia cleans the bacteria so that it keeps self-cycling without maintenance?

  8. /watch?v=2BEtplkio0A&lc=-UPwIhtIA9Uf1i7_tBrtIRWwO3-KI7rAacgzSO3vA2I

    this has some info.

    And no, you have to clean the pipes and pumps every so often, like once a year. The bacteria/algea grow where sunlight is available, and has to be scrubbed every so often (again, roughly once a year)

  9. I actually saw a video on youtube I just don't remember from who's channel but this guy was able to rid the bacteria/algea growth using the aquaponics system. Basically he was saying he didn't have to scrub anything… he let aquaponics do its work.

  10. Whilst I understand the idea and the logic behind aquaponics I dont agree with the conditions that the fish are kept in! poor lighting and over crowded tanks with fish often having disease caused by stress because the people using the fish dont understand how to look after the fish. is tapwater used to top up the water? if so the chlorine or chloromine can cause fish health problems, if they add a water treatment to counter the chlorine that means you are putting chemicals into the plants food!

  11. I can understand your concerns. The good news is that information is available for all of your questions. Start with the old newsletters from Cape Cod's New Alchemy Institute – this is where Aquaponics was 'invented' – the folks were doing advanced sustainability work in the 1970s. thegreencenter (dot) n e t Then look into Permaculture. Both are driven by the permanent Earth and People care ethic. Tilapia are social schooling fish – put a dozen in the ocean and they'll still clump!

  12. Yes, but you can't have the prawns right next to the roots – you'd have to clean the tubes still. Yes its possible to reduce the maintenance, but I've come to appreciate that easier regular maintenance makes for an easier and more long-term durable system thatn one that attempts to be completely maintenance free.

  13. Im just concerned that fish are fast becoming the new "battery farm chickens" its the small have a go types that know nothing about fish but want to try out the idea that bother me most, im not saying they are deliberately cruel just ignorant to the needs of the fish! if the fish are put high up and out of the way then they obviously are not checked on as often as the precious plants and the fish need daylight to remain healthy just like the plants but I cant see any in the video! ??

  14. I do agree the idea is good but needs refining big time even low voltage lighting on that scale is costly for the environment, aquaponics in a greenhouse or polytunnel without the running cost would seem more suitable, plants mounted above shallower but bigger tanks would be better for the fish if enough light gets into the tank! maybe windows in the side of the tanks and solar powered pumps ?save money? better for the planet? im biased as im a fish nut but a bit more thought and its win win!

  15. What about solar panels on the roof for light for LED lighting or Geo Thermal running your power and heating/cooling…There is always a way when you want one it will be provided for you. i like the light in the side of the tank 😉

  16. Yeah that works too! going deep can generate lots of heat even compost heaps can be used to generate immense heat and these would provide another useful bi product for growers as well as eco friendly disposal for old plant matter, possibilities are endless but it needs people from different backgrounds to get the best results, ie power, fish, plants and aqua dynamics or whatever its called lol after all we've all had the moment someone points out something and you say why didnt i think of that

  17. Unique bull shit, and waste of power, time and money. This is what happen to "educated idiots who raised and grown up on apartment buildings without real hands on experience with earth in child hood.

  18. You do realize aquaponics uses 90% less water, and requires absolutely no fertilizer AND grows on average twice as fast as typical gardening, right? Aquaponics is the opposite of waste. Takes less time, costs less money, and grows faster. Just because you don't know anything about aquaponics doesn't mean you have to assume it's wrong.

  19. Low voltage and coal burning don't do even a fraction the harm that pesticides and commercial fertilizer run off do to the ecosystem. Carbon emissions from coal burning are possibly the most easily prevented carbon emissions, but they are nowhere near the majority of carbon emissions. Natural cabon emissions from volcanic activity and deforestation and the desertification of greenlands causes multitudes more carbon emission.

  20. You realize chlorine leaves tap water naturally after just a day of degassing, right? If you think these fish are stressed then you have no idea what typical farmed fish go through. These fish are probably more happy and less stressed than they are in the wild being hunted by natural predators.

  21. People are having lots of success with it. LEDs are extremely efficient (Expen$ive, but if you don't need a tractor & implements…) Because of the way most of these are set up – there's only one pump needed (gravity and siphons do most of the work) The nutrient cycle is almost perfect, because of the chemistry in the fish waste, and the plants can be grown very "crowded" because the roots don't need a terrirory. (it's the dense growing that brings the payoff) you can grow whatever – anywhere.

  22. did i say anything about pesticides? no because i know they are bad and are not needed they just make farming easier, theres enough rotting food around to be put back into the ground for use as fertiliser. we cant stop volcanos so thats also a stupid argument, we are talking about a farming technique that could be very good all round without the need for any suffering by any creatures either in a fish tank or in the woodland saved by better farming methods.

  23. Chlorine does degass quickly but what about chloromine? not such an easy item to remove ! and i dont care if conditions are worse in other fish industries no animals should suffer if it can be avoided, this isnt a personal attack on an individual its a fact that conditions could easily and cheaply made better for the fish, and poor lighting and conditions cant be compared to good free living, would kids locked in a room to keep them safe from sickos be happier than kids playing outside? no !

  24. You want to bitch about the world because we eat animals? How privileged are you that you can afford such idiocy? Idiots who grow up soft have a tendency to take themselves out of the gene pool and I hope you do it sooner. You are wasting perfectly good oxygen.

  25. do u even know what that kind of words mean? i´m from germany, it means shame on man kind for a long period of time. do not us that kind of stupid pharases unless u feel conform with that.

  26. Yes, I know exactly what it means. I was being sarcastic. In my opinion, most humans are really not so different from Nazis, fundamentally, as they constantly find ways to justify the causation of pain and suffering, and maintaining the status quo of human caused misery worldwide.

  27. "There's this thing over here and it's got a thing going on and there's these fish." Some actual details would be helpful.

  28. Thanks a lot for your video.
    I also have the thorough step-by-step training video lessons teaching how to grow your very own selfmade Aquaponic system. Its very easy that even your granny can do it!
    Have a look at here to learn more:
    www.fine4.info/step-by-step-how-to-build-your-own-aquaponics-system

  29. Wow! I'm from nearby (St. Louis, MO) and we have a lot of similar abandoned industrial spaces. This has given me some inspiration, maybe I can work towards this kind of project here. Yes, it is rough around the edges. And yes, it may not fulfill some w/in the progressive movement's desire to deconstruct modern society back into some organic/agrarian idealized past, but it is a solution for a real, modern, urban world!

  30. Can you help? What are those tanks called at 4:09, the translucent white ones with the metal framing around them. I would like to set up a large compost tea brewer and would love to use one of those tanks.

  31. They are IBC (intermediate bulk container) totes and they are used for the storage and shipping of bulk liquids. Since your end product will be consumed by humans, make sure the totes you purchase were used in food production (vegetable oils, syrups, food coloring, etc.). DO NOT purchase/use totes that contained poisons, chemicals or any petroleum based products.

  32. Chicago, Chicago, that's what they were thinking when going indoors for aquaponics. Makes perfect sense, outside would be a friggin disaster.

  33. this sort of system seams ripe for infection. either in the fish or in the plants, and either way its gonna spread.

  34. This is a joke, you can never support the cost to run the ficities with what you can produce in the buildirg. If you import food for fish why waist the space for growing vegetables. You can rent out the space and you will probably make more money than to grow vegetables. How many pounds of vegetable can you grow per kilawatts? The electricity will probably cost more than what you can grow. Are you not burning fuel (oil) to light your grow room? I would like to se your detailed busnss plan

  35. Wow, impressive operation. If you wish to eliminate powdery mildew and/or Botrytis without any chemical fungicides, perhaps we can be of service to you ?

  36. hi like to thank you for your work on letting people know how to go green I have one ? can some one use gray water from bathwater and bathroom sinks and washing machine for aquaponics does the water need to be filtered first. I live in Arizona and I have to haul my water and im a preper looking to grow food and save water can I ues gray water thanks

  37. That troublesome moment when your brother (who’s been a loser for a long time, incidentally) gets an incredible girl to fall for him in 3 weeks?! Absolutely, that just materialized. I believe I ought to be pleased for him even so I wish it was me. He explained he applied the the Cupid Love System (Google it). I wish to hide out inside a cave at this moment…

  38. HEY John could you talk about expected fish / vegetable yields?  Would love to know the expected estimate.  Also how many people does it take to run an Aquaponics operation of that size?

  39. Hi John! How long this growing system have gone that far? This is really worth wondering and incredibly amazing! However, I perceived that aquaponics are one of the most resourceful and beneficial methods of growing both vegetables and fishes. This is the huge aquaponics I've ever seen. 

  40. Look up "Urban Organics" in St. Paul Minnesota.  They turned an old brewery in to an aquaponics facility on a much larger scale.  Harvest over 1000 heads of lettuce per day plus many other plants as well.

  41. You probably can build your indoor garden that does not need weeding, tilling or cultivating, the spreading of fertilizer or garden compost, with no watering or irrigating; all while your vegetables produce up to 10 x the amount of veggies than plants from the dirt garden. 

  42. Wow, awesome video!  This is exactly what I want to do!  I'm hoping to open a brewery in the near future.  I actually first started reading about aquaponics while investigating potential uses for brewing waste.  From what I've read, not only is spent grain a potential source of animal feed, but yeast is as well.  Yeast contains all the essential amino acids.  As I understand it, cows can tolerate live yeast — it may actually be beneficial for their digestive systems — but in other animals, live yeast may disrupt normal digestion, so it should be denatured first (ie. by heating).  I'm not sure whether fish can tolerate live yeast or not, but I have read a study wherein fish meal was replaced with brewers yeast in tilapia feed with positive results.

    A typical 10 barrel batch of beer will produce at least 20 liters of yeast.  A small fraction of that may be immediately used for another batch of beer, but a vast majority is waste.  For most small breweries, it is not economical to process yeast into animal feed, so it just gets washed down the drain.  This can actually pose a problem, as the yeast may consume the oxygen necessary for proper sewage treatment.  Using it to supplement animal feed kills two birds with one stone.

    You mentioned in the video that the plants looked sort of anemic.  I was curious how you supplement iron in your own aquaponics system?  In another YouTube video I watched, the narrator said he uses a chelated iron product, but that it was not organic.  He did not offer an organic alternative.  It occurred to me that one way of adding bioavailable iron would be blood meal.  It might also be a good supplement for fish feed.  If you're growing food for vegans, they would probably take exception to using blood meal, but then again, they would probably take exception to aquaponics in general.

  43. It seems very clear that there are far to many fish in the topes. the people who own the factory are creating a set up to make as much money as possible.
    fish for food …yes, fish for money…yes. But there seems no differance between battery farmed chickens and what they are doing there.
    Im disgusted, it's just another example of greedy people taking a great idea like aquaponics and exploting it to the stage of cruelty to fill there own pockets.
    FYI, the fish im holding in my pic were returned to the water safe and well.

  44. that should be banned by health department these fishes are in horrific condition , it needs better water filtration , it is disgusting 

  45. I WANT TO DO THIS IN JAMAICA – I GOT SOME LAND MY DAD LEFT AND I WANT TO FARM IT BUT I MIGHT JUST GO GREENHOUSE INSTEAD OF OUT DOORS – AND ALSO  A FISH FARM

  46. Fish density looks very high in this system … whenever I see an aquaponics system where water is moving as dynamic as in this one, makes me question how sustainable that system really is … how much energy is being used to run …  if fish density would be less, I imagine, less energy would be demanded for filtration, aeration , etc ..   

  47. hi everyone ,if anyone else needs to find out about aquaponics courses try Panlarko Expert Aquaponics Planner (do a search on google ) ? Ive heard some great things about it and my work buddy got great success with it.

  48. were animals slaughtered there or just meat packaging ? I've been in some old slaughter facilities and you can just feel the death in the air and it is kind of spooky lol

  49. Hey * These guys should check what plastic those giant containers are. #2 or #5 ?!?!?!? If it's 7 those ALL need to be replaced Nearly FOR SURE. Also the fish are agitating their containers more than "normal". — http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/0902.asp

  50. The host was being positive and good natured. This is the basement of an old slaughterhouse. Why build a closed system in a basement? What is the backup power system like? The allowable margin of error in tote bins decreases significantly when you (a) have no access to sunlight; (b) are using a traditional stocking method of more than 1 fish per gallon. The benefit of an indoor environment needs to be offset with risks. I wish them all the very best of success.

  51. There are several factors in studying home aquaponics. One place I found which succeeds in merging these is the Keiths Ponics Site (google it if you're interested) definately the most useful info i've heard of. look at this amazing website.

  52. I wish people could learn more about aquaponics BEFORE they criticize the fish density of the tanks. If they weren't so ignorant, they would know that you must have a high fish density for a deep water or flood & drain system to work (as opposed to grow towers). Also, if they understood fish at all, they would know that the crowded system actually pacifies tilapia. If they have too much space, these fish become extremely aggressive and brutal. They are much nicer in "schools." Finally, if folks understood how the filtration system works, they would know that the fish are being kept in excellent conditions.

  53. "After many failed attempts of building an Aquaponic system. I was performing a search on the internet for information and found your site [ Check Details Here  >>>fb.com/AquaponicsSystem-125782164733983/app/208195102528120    ]. I have never been so thankful to find a site before in my life. I learned so much through your guide and video. I have also been very impressed with your customer service. I have sent you many emails asking questions and you answered me back quickly. Thank you"

  54. Nice Video! Excuse me for butting in, I would love your initial thoughts. Have you heard about – Patlarny Gardening Expert Principle (erm, check it on google should be there)? It is a great exclusive product for learning how to expand your produce with the clever art of aquaponics without the hard work. Ive heard some interesting things about it and my buddy after many years got amazing success with it.

  55. I found your video on Fast track grower – there's plenty more good videos there that should help you

  56. There are several components to aquaponics help . One resource I found that successfully combines these is the Fast Track Grower (check it out on google) definately the most helpful blueprint that I've heard of. Check out all the interesting info .

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