In 2010, Bubbly Dynamics acquired the former Peer Foods meatpacking plant in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago. The building was described by the real estate broker as a “strip and rip,” anticipating that the new owner would strip out the stainless steel, copper, and anything else of value, and rip down the building. But Bubbly Dynamics saw tremendous value in this USDA-grade facility and envisioned reusing the structure to incubate food and farming businesses, which would bring much-needed jobs back to a disinvested community in a “food desert” lacking healthy food options.
Now called The Plant, this 93,500 sq. ft. facility is a collaborative community of small food businesses, all focused on growing, producing, and/or sourcing a variety of food products. The Plant currently houses over a dozen small businesses, including indoor and outdoor farms, kombucha and beer breweries, a bakery, a cheese distributor, a coffee roaster, and other emerging food producers and distributors.
As of early 2019, there were approximately 85 full-time employee equivalent positions based at the facility. The Plant is still under construction and is approximately 70% leased up; we anticipate reaching full build-out in 2019-20.
“The Plant” is the simply the name of the building, not the name of an organization.
Founded on a model of closing waste, resource, and energy loops, The Plant is working to show what truly sustainable food production and economic development looks like by growing and producing food inside an repurposed industrial building.
The planned anaerobic digester is a key feature at The Plant, as it is designed to solve several critical issues by reusing what is conventionally considered “waste" while creating several valuable outputs. Waste from the building will be a fraction of the volume of waste processed by the digester, yet the digester will demonstrate that even food‐production businesses, which are typically waste and energy intensive, can operate sustainably by closing waste loops. While the digester project has been on hold due to a financing gap, we made progress on sitework in 2018 and are aiming to recommence installation of equipment in 2019.
This illustration is a conceptual diagram of the various processes anticipated at The Plant, at full build-out:
The following organizations are tenants at The Plant:
Special thanks to Scrappers Film Group for the video on our website's intro page, a time-lapse of a long day of work at The Plant moving former smokehouses to their current location in the building, where they have been repurposed as restrooms!
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