O’Hare Urban Gardens


I recently had some downtime while flying through Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Actually, it took around 4 hours. I got up to look around because I didn’t want to sit in the terminal after spending so much time on the plane.

In fact, wondering in an airport seems really weird. The majority of the time, you feel pressed for time as you race past thousands of other passengers to get to your next gate, reading signs quickly. The lack of additional collisions between humans or between people and motorized carts is actually rather amazing.

But when I took a leisurely stroll through the area to explore, I stumbled onto something really intriguing: an indoor urban garden. I would probably never come across it because I would be rushing between gates. But with more time to wander now, I found this lush haven located on the Rotunda Building’s second story as I made my way to concourse G. (For some reason, I forgot to take any photos while I was there, so I begged my brother, a commercial pilot who frequently travels through O’Hare, to snap a few images on his next trip through-thanks, Mike!)

Actually, this urban garden is an aeroponics system. Most of you have probably heard of hydroponics (using nutrient rich water in the production of plants in a soil-less environment). However, aeroponics sprays a nutrient-rich water mist over the roots on a regular basis. The entire system is automated, with timers and pumps controlling every aspect.

Wolfgang Puck, Tortas Frontera, Wicker Park Sushi, and Tuscany are just a few of the restaurants in the airport that use the food from this garden: it is also grown for a few other nearby eateries. On the CDA website, a variety of plants, including lettuce, chard, basil, chives, and edible flowers, are listed as being grown locally.

Even some inviting chairs may be found strewn about the “garden” area. However, a transparent glass fence prevents visitors from ambling around the garden to sample the produce. On a day with a lot of clouds, it’s nice to come inside and bask in the intense grow lights.

When you next pass through O’Hare Airport, if you find yourself with some time to kill in between flights, be sure to stop by the cool urban garden spot that can be found on the approach to the G concourse. On a cold winter day, I can imagine that it is very inviting. You can view some additional photographs of these gardens on the Urban Gardens Web website.

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