Plant Chicago holds classes and workshops that explore circular economy principles. Our programs take place in our indoor aquaponics farm, net-zero classroom, and outdoor learning spaces on-site at The Plant.

Not long ago, The Plant was an abandoned 93,500 square foot pork processing facility. Now it’s a collaborative community of food businesses looking to revalue their “waste”. Plant Chicago is a educational non-profit housed inside The Plant.

We collaborate with all of the businesses co-located with us, including the for profit owner/operator of The Plant , Bubbly Dynamics, LLC. To learn more about The Plant, including facility tours and current tenants of the building, visit Bubbly’s website.

To explore ways to learn more about local circular economies or how to get involved with Plant Chicago, read on!

>6,000

people participated in Plant Chicago programs in 2017

Open Farm Hours

Saturdays from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Explore Plant Chicago’s demonstration aquaponic system – raising fish + growing plants in water. Chat with an aquaponics expert, learn more about circular economy principles, and visit some the the exciting research projects being launched in our basement farm!

Please note: There will be no Open Farm Hours on Saturday 12/22. Have an excellent holiday season!

Private Workshops + Classes

We offer the following workshops for adults and university level students:

Aquaponics: Design Challenge
Delve deeper into the science behind aquaponics and learn more about the nitrogen system! Participants are challenged to build their own system (not for taking home) using predetermined materials.

Circular Economy Workshop
Challenge your students/organization to think critically about our current economic system and solve real world problems! This team oriented workshop shows the feasibility of designing large scale circular economies through comparing the life cycle of a plastic bottle with the forest ecosystem. Participants work together to propose ideas for businesses to minimize ‘waste,’ increase efficiency, and close resource and energy loops.

For information on our K-12 education programs, visit http://plantchicago.org/learning/

We offer private workshops Tuesdays – Thursdays at 10 am and 1 pm, Fridays at 1 pm, and variable times on Saturdays. We can accommodate up to 30 attendees per group. All visits must be arranged at least 2 weeks in advance of your requested date. Workshops are a minimum payment of $150, with individual tickets priced at $7/student and $10/adult. Sliding scale offered.

Schedule a Private Workshop

Have an idea for a workshop that you would like to lead? Have other questions? Contact us at education@plantchicago.org

Public workshops + Classes

Plant Chicago hosts and facilitates a wide range of educational programs for the general public in our classroom and research farms at The Plant.

Our Aquaponics classes introduce participants to various aspects of designing, building, and maintaining aquaponics systems. The entire class series covers introductory aquaponics, lighting, plumbing, water chemistry, and system design.

Plant Chicago teams up with various small businesses to offer workshops on local food and circular economy topics such as fermentation, seed starting, foraging, vegan baking, renewable energy, and other DIY projects.

Workshop and class fees range from $15-$35. Sliding scale offered.

Upcoming Public Workshop Schedule

 

Current research and demonstration projects

Algae Bioreactor

An efficient method for processing waste, the bioreactor produces Spirulina, a fast-growing and nutritious algae—perfect for our homemade fish food.  We're using nutrients from the aquaponics farm as an input to this system.

Aquaponics Farm

Aquaculture and hydroponics combined allows us to raise fish and grow produce without soil. The fish "waste" fertilizes the plants. We’ve been experimenting with homemade fish food recipes, using biomaterials produced on site to increase nutrition and lower costs. We're using spent grains from the brewer on site, Whiner Brewery, as a source of food for our fish.

Miniature Anaerobic Biodigester

Anaerobic digestion is a highly efficient, low-oxygen method for converting organic matter like food waste into biofuel. We fed our miniature digester kitchen scraps to test feedback ratios and gas production and gauge the scalability of the process.

Bio-briquettes

Waste is an opportunity, and Plant Chicago has experimented with various "waste" materials from Whiner Brewery and 4 Letter Word Coffee and turning it into a combustible fuel source. We're experimenting with using the briquettes to offset wood consumption in Pleasant House's wood fired oven.

Textiles from Mycelia

Mycelia are the interconnected threads that are otherwise known as fungus. Most of us associate with the fruiting body of the fungus known as a mushroom, but mycelia have many other uses from growing packaging material to potentially growing textiles!

Sustainable Fish Feed

Growing your own fish feed is an effective way to reduce both the expense of feeding fish, and the environmental impact that standard commercial feeds impose. Current experiments are in the cultivation of mealworms and duckweed.

Bio-Based Dishware

Utilizing coffee chaff from 4 Letter Word coffee, as well as binders such as beeswax from Bike a Bee, Plant Chicago is experimenting with the creation of a compostable (even edible!) alternative to paper plates.