Could Chicago Feed Itself?

That’s the question architect, Benjamin Kennedy, set out to answer with his Master’s Degree thesis. Before he started looking for a topic, he had never heard of vertical farming. The more Ben thought about it, the more intrigued he became. Was this just a crazy concept, or was it really feasible to feed the entire population of this huge urban center with locally grown food?

His research didn’t cover just tomatoes, lettuce and fish. He wanted to discover if a full, rich diet of balanced nutrition was possible to grow within the city limits. Quite an undertaking when it would take the amount of farmland the size of Africa to do so with traditional farming. What did he discover? We’ll let Mr. Kennedy tell you.


Well, the price tag is beyond the average person’s grasp, but yes it is possible and using already available buildings repurposed. Every large city has empty warehouses that could be used. The number of new jobs such and undertaking would create would definitely boost the local economy too. On a large scale, vertical gardening could change the entire food supply system and vastly reduce our carbon footprint at the same time that it would play a bit part in urban revival.

Ben Kennedy is an independent architect in the Chicago area.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.