312 Aquaponics

This past Tuesday I spent the afternoon helping the owners of 312 Aquaponics with some demolition work in their space. Even though this is a for profit organization I was impressed enough with their business model to help them in their start-up. The four founders are all recent college graduates and also room mates. I met these guys at the Columbia College Eco-Fair last month.

They are part of an ambitious vertical farming incubator headed by John Edel. Their company is developing the technology to “mimick Nature” that allows organic food to be grown year round. Other companies in the former Peer Food Groups building include New Chicago Brewing Company, and Plant Chicago.

John and the start ups have been designing some of the systems with help from students at the Illinois Institute of Technology through their IPRO program. They have a goal to establish a huge anaerobic digester that will turn food by-products into methane gas that will run a electric turbine and provide steam to the brewery, heating and other systems.

I went to an open house last weekend and decided to go back to help them tear out a 6″x6″ reinforced concrete base. One of the founders manned the jack hammer and the rest of us took turns on the sledgehammer and picking up the debris. It was definitely the hardest work I’ve done as a volunteer, or otherwise for many years. They posted a video with me on their website. I was taking a break, but looking good!

Anyway, I look forward to going back for a tour when they are operational. Next weekend I’m going to volunteer for Plant Chicago. Maybe I can talk them into giving me a nice Tilapia I can take home.

This number 14 and I’ve got thirty six to go!