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 2017, there were approximately 80 full-time employee equivalent positions based at the facility. The Plant is still under construction and is approximately 60% leased up; we anticipate reaching full build-out in 2019.
“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 continue to pursue alternate financing sources and partnerships and is attempting to recommence installation in 2018.
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:
Interested in Visiting?
Because The Plant is a production facility, the building generally isn't open to the public. However, there are lots of opportunities to visit! Be sure to follow The Plant on Facebook to keep current on the many events taking place here.
For information on hands-on learning opportunities and monthly markets, click over to Plant Chicago, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that leads educational programming and outreach activities here at The Plant.
You can also visit Whiner Beer Co.'s taproom; click on the Whiner logo above for their hours and to find out what's on tap. Enjoy!
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!