Emmanuel Pratt’s mission to turn blight into farms and to grow entrepreneurs

(Reprinted from Chicago Tribune Blue Sky Innovation)

chi-emanuel-pratt-hydroponics-bsi-gallery-2014-007As you turn south off 95th Street at Cottage Grove, you might miss the farm on your left. Most farms, after all, don’t look like abandoned shoe factories.

That will change if Emmanuel Pratt has anything to say about it. He envisions a network of urban farms across Chicago, feeding both people and new businesses in blighted food deserts.

He says his facility, run by the Sweetwater Foundation in conjunction with Chicago State University, is an incubator for all the elements that need to grow to make this happen. Chicago State calls it the Aquaponics Facility for its emphasis on the food-processing system that combines aquaculture (raising aquatic organisms) and hydroponics (growing plants in water).

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