Plant Chicago runs programs out of our indoor aquaponics farm, net-zero classroom, shared mycology lab, and outdoor learning spaces on-site at The Plant.

our location

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!


small food businesses are co-located with Plant Chicago

Open Farm Hours

Saturdays from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Learn more about Plant Chicago’s research through self guided visits of our aquaponic farm in the basement of The Plant! Stop by on a Saturday anytime between 12-2pm to learn more about circular economy principles, view our waste museum, hear from current interns, and explore our demonstration aquaponic system – raising fish + growing plants in water. Scroll down to view our research projects!

Please note: We will not be hosting Open Farm Hours on Saturdays 9/21 and 9/28

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.

Information on our K-12 education programs here 

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

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


plant chicago farmstand

Saturday Hours: 10am – 4pm

Plant Chicago’s brick & mortar farmstand is located in the lobby of The Plant. Inside you’ll find Plant Chicago merchandise and food and beverage items produced and distributed by our fellow tenants of The Plant. We also stock books and a variety of products from companies whose practices align with our mission to cultivate local circular economies.

Featured Businesses


people participated in workshops in 2018

Research and Circular Economy Projects

Algae Bioreactor

An efficient method for processing waste, the bioreactor produces Spirulina, a brightly colored, fast-growing and nutritious algae—perfect for homemade fish food. Nutrients produced by the tilapia from the aquaponics farm can be used 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 and using biomaterials produced on site to increase nutrition while lowering costs.


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've experimented with using the briquettes to offset wood consumption in Pleasant House's wood fired oven.

Textiles from SCOBYs

We worked with Arize Kombucha and Kombuchade to create a vegan alternative to leather. Using the Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) used to make kombucha, we were able to create a durable, flexible, and appealing leather-like product!

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. We've experimented with 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 has experimented with the creation of a compostable alternative to paper plates. Since these plates are made entirely with food ingredients, they're also edible! Take 'zero waste' to the next level by eating your plate!

Waste Museum

To spark conversations about waste, we are creating a museum that will feature the various types of waste created inside The Plant. By being able to look at all these materials together, we can look for new ways to close waste streams through another lens! Stop by Open Farm Hours to view all these materials and help us brainstorm new opportunities.

Waste Audits

We work with businesses onsite to conduct waste audits. Waste audits are a useful tool for quantifying, classifying, and managing waste. The type and amount of waste being generated by an organization is quantified, which helps to inform decision-making and is an opportunity for both us and an organization to learn more about waste!

Arbuscular Mycorrhizae

These fungi do not form mushrooms, but partner with the roots of most vascular plants to create ecosystem-building symbioses. Plants that are myceliated by mycorrhizal fungi are more drought and heat resilient, and produce more abundance. We are searching for these fungi and exploring their impact on plant growth.

Industrial Ecology

Explore academic posters that highlight the industrial ecology research from some of our partner institutions, University of Illinois at Chicago and Illinois Institute of Technology. Ranging from food waste and circular agriculture to thought experiments and systems thinking, there's something to intrigue everyone!