Uncommon Ground

Certified green restaurant supplements rooftop farm with hydroponics

In 2011 Helen and Michael Cameron’s Chicago restaurant, Uncommon Ground on Devon, was honored with the title of the “Greenest Restaurant in the Country” by the Green Restaurant Association with the runner up for that title being filled by their second Chicago location, Uncommon Ground on Clark. With solar panels, composting, sustainable fixtures and even a business vehicle fueled by fryer oil the restaurant’s two locations are undoubtedly committed to green business practices.

Most notably, the Cameron’s Edgewater location on Devon created the first certified organic rooftop farm in the country. The 640 square foot rooftop farm is used to fill the kitchen with organic produce for the menu according to Chicago’s ABC7.

After the countrywide recognition of their rooftop farm, the restaurant owners met up with Living Water Farms at a speaking event and began to use their products during their own farm’s off seasons. Owner, Helen Cameron explained that having fresh produce is critical for the restaurant and they have been happy with the greens and herbs from Living Waters that they use in the cold Chicago winters.

The family owned farm uses geothermal heating and cooling methods, organic, compostable peat pellets for growing and uses their greenhouse scraps to feed their livestock or compost. Cameron explained the qualities of the rural, Central Illinois farm that secured them as a good, closed system choice for their Certified Green Restaurant locations. The farm’s hydroponic systems specialize in provide living products like salad bouquets and herbs 12 months out of the years. One of the farm’s driving goals is to provide local markets with high quality, organic produce regardless of the harsh, Illinois winters.

With plans for a rooftop garden at their Clark location and determination to fulfill the greenest restaurant in the country title once again, Cameron and Uncommon Ground are dedicated to making a difference in the environment. Cameron discussed their commitment to green practices and their customers, “It creates a lot of awareness and makes a big, bold statement about growing food and [the importance of] where it comes from. “