Rooftop Garden McCormick Place, Chicago

Urban Rooftop Farm ChicagoI first learned about urban/rooftop gardens from my friend Sara Pool, Portland, Oregon’s leading garden and foraging expert. .  She is a big advocate of this kind of thing, and Portland has been an early adapter of the concept.

Attending the National Restaurant Show this past week, I was interested to learn about the garden atop the convention center, McCormick Place. Depending on who is measuring and what criteria is being used, McCormick Place may well be the largest convention center in the world, at over 2.5 million square feet.  It opened  in 1960 at a cost in today’s dollars of nearly a cool billion.

Savor, the consulting group responsible for the food service at the center, partnered with the Chicago Botanic Garden to set up a usable urban farm on the roof of the center.

The garden covers two and a half acres and supplies thousands of pounds of beets, kale, carrots, lettuce, peppers, beans and herbs to Savor’s own outlets in the center, as well as to local restaurants.  Savor’s use takes “farm to fork” to an entirely new level of definition.  20,000 honey bees and 2,000 earthworms hang around to do their part in garden production.

Another benefit of the garden is the Chicago Botanic folks use it as part of their internship program, so young volunteers are able to learn all about where their food comes from and how it gets to their kitchens.

Urban Rooftop Farm Chicago