Restaurants at Chicago O’Hare airport to use herbs and veg grown inside the terminal

The world's first 'aeroponic' garden at an airport opened in Terminal 2 on Friday.

Restaurants at Chicago O'Hare airport to use herbs and veg grown inside the terminal

Elie W. Maalouf, HMSHost's CEO and Rosemarie S. Andolino, Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner opened the world's first 'aeroponic' garden at an airport on Friday.

Passengers dining at Chicago O’Hare airport could find themselves eating meals prepared using ingredients sourced several metres away, inside the airport’s own garden.

Chicago O’Hare has turned an area inside Terminal 2 concourse G into a soil-less garden – the world’s first ‘aeroponic’ garden at an airport.

More than 40 organic herbs and vegetables, including different varieties of lettuce, green beans, hot peppers and herbs are being cultivated using ‘hydroponics’: a method of growing plants that involves replacing soil with nutrient-rich water.

The vegetables harvested from the indoor garden- which is being funded by airport food & beverage operator, HMSHost – are being served to passengers at a handful of restaurants in the terminal, including Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi, Blackhawks Restaurant and Italian restaurant, Tuscany.

Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Commissioner, Rosemarie S Andolino said that providing passengers with locally grown produce “supports CDA’s commitment to sustainability by strengthening the local economy and job market”, adding that it will also provide “a unique learning opportunity for travellers, and reduce urban sprawl, traffic congestion, habitat loss, and pollution from transporting produce.”

Aeroponics is becoming increasingly popular globally as agricultural land must compete with developers for limited space.

Chicago O’Hare’s indoor garden is designed to make the best use of space. When the herbs and vegetables mature, they are transferred to tall, round, vertical towers under special grow lights.

Visitors can visit the garden in The Rotunda Building, Terminal 2.

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