3 sustainably-obsessed businesses make up 'living, breathing ecosystem' in West Town

The Roof Crop, Maxwells Trading, Flashpoint Innovation repurposing each other's 'leftovers' helping reduce waste

ByBlanca Rios and Tracy Butler WLS logo
Thursday, May 23, 2024
3 green businesses part of 'living, breathing ecosystem' in West Town
Three Chicago businesses, The Roof Crop, Maxwells Trading and Flashpoint Innovation, are helping reduce waste by repurposing each other's leftovers.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's what's on the inside and top of this building that counts.

The ordinary looking brown brown building sits at 1516 W. Carroll in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor, a small pocket of Chicago's West Town.

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But it's actually extraordinarily green with three self-proclaimed "sustainably obsessed" businesses.

"It's a living, breathing ecosystem between all of the businesses together in the one location," said Tracy Boychuk, the founder of The Roof Crop.

Hence the name, The Roof Crop is located at the tippy top of the building.

The green roof growing company is currently cultivating about a dozen other rooftop gardens in the city.

"Green roofs themselves are really beneficial in terms of climate mitigation and the heat island effect that we have in urban environments," said Boychuk. "I like to say if every building in the West Loop had a green roof on it like this, the temperature in this neighborhood would change significantly. It would be 20 degrees less hot every summer."

Come August, The Roof Crop or TRC as Boychuk calls it, will be blooming with flowers and sprouting with vegetables and a variety of plants.

"Everything that we plant, we have more than one use for. So if it's not used fresh, it can be used dried, it can be used repurposed," said Boychuk. "The food that's grown up here goes all down to Maxwell's trading, which is the restaurant entity downstairs.

Maxwells Trading is headed up by Underscore Hospitality partners Chef Erling Wu-Bauer and Josh Tilden.

"Right now turnips are on the menu," said Boychuk. "The chefs are using the turnip greens but if we end up having too many turnip greens, Adam's already talking about experimenting with dehydrating those and using them in a in a dog treat."

Adam Moore is the founder of Flashpoint Innovation, a food beverage consultancy on the second floor.

"We're grounded in trying to make an impactful change within sustainability across the national and global food service industry," said Moore.

Flashpoint finds creative ways for Maxwells Trading and other restaurants to repurpose leftover ingredients and keep them from ending up in the trashcan.

Moore used some leftover beer that he created into a vinegar as an example. "Would do is like use that in a recipe, for example, to inspire a restaurant on other ways to use beer other than drink it," he said.

On the first floor of the building is The Roof Crop's apothecary and flower studio called "Third Season" where you can buy everything from a coffee to naturally dyed yarns.

"It's a great place to come in and see what we're experimenting with. We're taking kitchen waste like onion skins and avocado pits, and we're doing natural dyes in our natural dye program, you know, so we're also growing natural dyes," said Boychuk.

And as the building continues to grow together, Boychuk said she hopes they can serve as an example for developers.

"I think the fact that the three businesses are very different and have their own client bases and also their own purposes, allow us to inform each other in how to do things differently or better, but also allows us to use things that one of them couldn't use," said Boychuk.