Wilder Fields has unveiled its first grow tower in a vacant Super Target in Calumet City, which it plans to turn into "one of the world's largest vertical farms."
The company has started construction in the 135,000-square-foot (~12,500m2) big-box store, which will house 22 clean rooms that can produce up to 25 million plants annually. The goal is to grow produce and other food for grocery stores and restaurants across the Chicagoland area. "To my knowledge, converting a big-box space to an indoor farm has never been done before," Wilder Fields founder Jake Counne said. "We are creating the blueprint for this transformation."
Wilder Fields launched its first urban farming operation in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, selling spinach, lettuce and other greens at stores like Dom's Kitchen and Market in Lakeview, Village Farmstand in Evanston and Local Foods in Logan Square. It's investing $40 million into its Calumet City farm, which will allow it to produce 300 times as much freshly grown produce. The next-generation farm will feature robotics and artificial intelligence to keep down costs.
"Calumet City is excited to join Wilder Fields in bringing this exciting project to our community," Mayor Thaddeus Jones said. "Wilder Fields is changing indoor farming for years to come and I look forward to its success and growth."
Jones said the project, which will include a retail store and education center for the public, was just the start of redevelopment in the city and could help galvanize more economic development going forward.
"We are building a world-class community," he said. "Wilder Fields is at the head of the pack in helping Calumet City become the leader in world-class businesses that add value to the lives of our residents."
Construction on the first phase is expected to be finished in the first quarter of next year. The Calumet City Farm will then initially grow and harvest dozens of varieties of leafy greens in the old, long-vacant Super Target that once sold produce. "Calumet City shares our vision of the positive impact Wilder Fields can have, not only on this community but also on the future of sustainable indoor agriculture," Counne said.
Read the complete article at www.nwitimes.com.