497-237: Vertical Farming for the Chicago Housing Authority

Meeting Days/Time
Wednesdays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Blake Davis (INTM) (davisbl@iit.edu) and Leslie Hicks (UGEd)
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome

Low-income communities in Chicago are often “food deserts”; defined as impoverished areas that don’t have a full-service grocery store or other source for fresh produce within one mile. Public housing is often at the heart of these food deserts. EarthGrid will be building a 70,000 sq. ft. indoor, controlled-environment farm in partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority to grow food for local students and their families. The farm will serve as the centerpiece of a new 5-acre housing project which will be constructed by the CHA. Food from the vertical farm will be grown to provide fresh produce free to school children in nearby schools, and to their parents at significantly reduced cost through the Farm-to-School Program.

This is a continuation of the Spring 2017 IPRO 237 project. The objective of the previous first semester of this IPRO project was to design the 70,000 sq. ft. building that will house the farm. The farm structure designed by the previous team will feature a sustainable hydroponics facility that will grow fish, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. The energy used for the facility will be generated from renewable sources and water will be supplied by a rainwater collection system.

The Fall 2017 IPRO team will focus on designing the operation of the facility. The team will design the production and storage systems in the facility that include aquaponic and hydroponic growing systems. The team will research and specify the lighting and growing equipment to be used in the farm, and develop a budget for the facility. The team will also develop a business model to support operation of the farm for the benefit of the children and families served by the facility.

EarthGrid, as the sponsor of the project, will work closely with this IPRO team on the design of the facility. The IPRO instructor has extensive experience with vertical farms, including the design and construction of the aquaponics facility at The Plant, the first vertical farm in Chicago.

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