Metropolitan Farms Brings Urban Aquaponics to Chicago

After its completion in 2015, Metropolitan Farms is thrilled to announce its next phase of bringing innovation to urban farming and aquaponics in the U.S. The urban farm takes a leadership role in the aquaponics industry with a proof of concept greenhouse-based farm in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood. With a mission to grow food in the city where it’s eaten, Metropolitan Farms offers chefs, retailers, and consumers the opportunity to know exactly where their food is coming from.
Founder and CEO Benjamin Kant is passionate about advancing new biological technologies that are near to nature, bringing the natural world closer to urban life. In partnership with Co-Founder and COO Eugene Shockey Funke, the pair worked together to design and build much of the facility from the ground up over a five-year period.
“Aquaponic farming is an answer to society’s needs for a healthier, more secure, and environmentally sustainable food system,” said Kant. “Aquaponics adds fish to a specially adapted hydroponic system creating a natural, closed-loop environment for growing that is free of the chemical fertilizers and pesticides commonly used in hydroponics. The greens and fish grown in the system are nurtured, as they would be in nature, producing tender, flavorful food without GMOs and land animal-based feed.”
The urban farm - built on top of a concrete parking lot - consistently delivers a unique variety of lettuces, including heirlooms and Romaine hearts, with a focus on Genovese and other specialty basils. Along with other herbs, proprietary salad blends, and greens, Metropolitan Farms sells U.S. born and raised American Blue and Rocky Mountain tilapia. Featured products include:
Genovese, opal, lime, cinnamon, and Thai basil
Variety of small leaf and head lettuces, including heirlooms and Romaine
Sage, oregano, and other herbs
Variety of tender Swiss chard
Tender mustard greens
Rocky Mountain Tilapia
American Blue Tilapia
Optional grow to suit standing orders
These products can be purchased directly at Metropolitan Farms or also the following Chicagoland locations:
Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets (Chicago, IL)
Carnivore (Oak Park, IL)
Serrelli’s Finer Foods (Oak Park, IL)
Christy Webber Landscapes (Chicago, IL)
Sugar Beet Food Co-op (Oak Park, IL)
Logan Square Farmer’s Market (Chicago, IL)
Lincoln Square Farmer’s Market (Chicago, IL)
Those looking for an inside look of Metropolitan Farms can visit for a guided tour on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The West Humboldt Park location provides a lush greenhouse experience in a serene environment, sharply contrasting the area’s busy manufacturing district. Visitors learn about the unique aquaponics farming system, viewing tilapia swimming happily in their tanks as they help grow fresh produce.  Walking tours include a fish feeding and the chance to select fresh produce. Tuesday tours are available from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Saturday tours from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  The educational experience is suited for adults and children of all ages and can be scheduled by visiting, or by calling (312) 600-4041. Group tours are available during scheduled hours or by special arrangement.
Locally grown, farm raised food is safer, fresher, supports local jobs, and reduces carbon emissions, and these factors inspired the creation of Metropolitan Farms.
About Aquaponics
Aquaponics farming uses nature’s own nitrogen cycle to grow fish and produce in one efficient system. In aquaponics, fish effluent is converted by naturally occurring bacteria into plant nutrients; nourishing produce and helping plants grow faster. This process cleanses the water for recirculation back to the fish in a closed loop cycle. Like nature, the aquaponics system functions on principles of reuse and absorption of natural matter to sustain life.

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