In the summer of 2011, the CDA and HMS Host Corporation collaborated to install an aeroponic garden in the mezzanine level of the O'Hare Rotunda Building. It was the first aeroponic garden at any airport in the world! The Rotunda Building is located in Terminal 3 over the corridor to Concourse G.
Ticketed airport visitors can view the garden while relaxing or enjoying a meal in the comfortable lounge area – perhaps a meal that contains some vegetables and herbs grown just a few feet away! Next time you travel through O'Hare, we invite you to take a few minutes to visit the garden and learn more about this unique and earth-friendly type of farming.
What is Aeroponic Gardening?
Aeroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil. Instead, plant roots are misted with a nutrient solution during a regular watering cycle. Aeroponics is becoming increasingly popular around the world as agricultural land uses must compete with developers for limited open space.
O'Hare's Aeroponic Garden
In O'Hare's aeroponic garden, plant roots are suspended in 26 towers that house over 1,100 planting spots. A nutrient solution is regularly cycled through the towers using pumps so that no water evaporates or is wasted, making the process self-sustaining. No fertilizers or chemicals are used in the garden.
Producing and purchasing locally grown foods supports the CDA's commitment to sustainability by strengthening the local economy and job market, providing a unique learning opportunity for travelers, and reducing urban sprawl, traffic congestion, habitat loss and pollution from the transportation of produce.
Advantages of Aeroponic Gardening
There are many advantages to cultivating an aeroponic garden over a conventional one, but here are just a few:
- Year-round cultivation
- Higher production yield per square foot
- No weed pulling
- Uses about two-thirds less water
- Typically less expensive
One of the top benefits of having an aeroponic garden inside O'Hare is the fact that many of our restaurants gather the fresh produce to use in meals they prepare for passengers daily. Tortas Frontera, Wicker Park Sushi, Wolfgang Puck and Tuscany Cafe are among some of the restaurants that directly benefit from our garden.
O'Hares Garden Produce Includes:
- Swiss chard
- Genovese basil
- Sweet basil
- Purple basil
- Bibb lettuce
- Gourmet lettuce mix
- Red lettuce
- Habanero peppers
- Edible viola flowers
- Edible nasturtium flowers
- Green beans
- Snap beans