Teen Chicago Travel Guide: Featuring Back of the Yards Teens

This year we spotlight teen voices in our Teen Chicago Travel Guide.

Teens from Back of the Yards YOUmedia visited The Plant, an innovative food production space designed to be a net-zero, closed loop system that includes a brewery, bakery, aqua farm and mushroom farm. Alan E., Angel P., Benito C., Cristian N., Emmanuel J., Eric R., Jon J., Keasean S., Kevin G., Luis F., Minnie F. and Nathaniel S. shared their reflections with us.

Where did you go and what did you see?

  • Benito: We went to The Plant Chicago and saw that they have many businesses inside. What captured my attention was how they grew the mushrooms.
  • Angel: They said that they used fresh coffee and put it in a pack so the mushrooms could grow. I was impressed that the fish waste was used to grow the plants.
  • Cristian: What caught my eye was the bakery; they're saving available space in open spaces.
  • Jon: It's fun when you first walk in because the smell of the beer brewery hits you, and out back with the plants and chickens, the smell of the bakery wafts from the vents.
  • Kevin: I was interested in the bakery because I want to be a chef.
  • Keasean: The bakery bread was a great sight (pictured). It reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Luis: We also bought paletas after the field trip and my lips were blue.

What did you learn? What would other teens find interesting?

  • Minnie: What I found very interesting is the way that the whole building was making its own power. Other teens would be interested in the opportunity to learn to balance and grow their own fruits and veggies. I also liked how the people interacted.
  • Keasean: I learned only fresh and organic ingredients should be used to be healthy.
  • Alan: I think the animals and the plants would interest other teens because they don't see them everyday.
  • Nathaniel: I learned how the building reuses its waste.
  • Eric: What really interested me was how all the facilities are connected and all the waste is recycled to be used for the next day (about 30 tons of waste).
  • Emmanuel: The thing that would interest other teens is how they use fish poop to help plants grow.
  • Jon: It's interesting that they reuse the water to keep the fish and plants alive. My favorite part was the staff, how nicely they handled the tour and how informative they were.

How did this trip impact your life?

  • Eric: The trip inspired me to make a difference in my community in my own individual way that brings me and others joy.
  • Cristian:  It changed me because I thought plants were boring and now I've taken an interest in ways help the earth.
  • Jon: It changed my view on how plants and waste are recycled. It deepened my dream of opening a cafe when I went into the beer brewery, plant garden, and the bakery after meeting the staff.

Thank you all for sharing your field trip adventures!