JetBlue adds a farm at JFK Airport

We can’t quite call it a trend yet, but the urban farming movement is making headway at airports.

First there was O’Hare International’s aeroponic garden:

Aeroponic Garden/

Created in 2011, O’Hare’s aeroponic garden grows more than 1,000 plants – without soil – in 26 towers, producing herbs and vegetables used by some of the airport restaurants, including Tortas Frontera.

The indoor garden is on the mezzanine level of the O’Hare Rotunda Building, in Terminal 3 over the corridor to Concourse G.

Now JetBlue has joined the movement with a large outdoor garden in front of Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport:

In addition to potatoes, JetBlue's T5 farm is growing herbs and produce for T5 restaurants and for local food pantries

The 24,000-square-foot T5 farm is growing produce, herbs and blue potatoes, the kind used to make the Terra Blues potato chips JetBlue offers as complimentary snacks to passengers.

Blue potatoes actually look purple when freshly picked

Potatoes, plus a wide variety of herbs and vegetables, are planted in raised beds made out of milk cartons bolted to the concrete.

The food grown will be used by restaurants in T5 and donated to area food pantries. And some of the blue potatoes may someday make it across the river to the New Jersey factory where the Terra Blues chips are now made out of blue potatoes grown on an organic farm in Maine.

Here are some more snaps from opening day at JetBlue’s T5 farm, which is located curbside, way to the left of the departure level doors. And here’s a link to a story I wrote about the farm for USA TODAY.

Helpful signs tell garden visitors what's growing in the milk crate beds.

JetBlue T5 farm manager Katrina Ceguera tending to the arugula

Shawn Connell, GrowNYC's program manager, with some of the first potatoes picked at the T5 farm.

Wi-Fi updates for O’Hare, Midway & Miami airports

Bucking a very definite trend, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, as well as Miami International Airport still charge for Wi-Fi access that would allow you to check email and take care of other business.

But these airports all now offer travelers free access to a wide variety of other on-line destinations.

At Miami International Airport, AWG (Advanced Wireless Group) is now delivering a free live stream of the CNN Airport Network on the wireless system that includes HBO, TBS, TNT and TCM programming as well as sports events and Spanish-language content from CNN Latino.

In Chicago, where Boingo provides the paid Wi-Fi service at O’Hare and Midway, there’s now a free Wi-Fi portal they’re calling “The Good Stuff” that gives travelers free access to about 30 sites for news, weather, shopping, entertainment, banking, travel and tourism, as well as local contact information.

To find “The Good Stuff” at O’Hare or Midway, go to the Boingo Wi-Fi network and click on the “The Good Stuff” panel on the left side on the page. Here’s where you can surf to for free:



Free lemonade, parades & other 4th of July fun at airports

Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway International Airports and Miami International Airport are among the airports that have some fun – and free – 4th of July activities planned for passengers this week.

In Chicago, there’s music, free flags and free lemonade:

Passengers traveling through O’Hare and Midway on Tuesday, July 2, will be entertained with a variety of music performances in the terminals from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

At O’Hare, head to Terminal 1 on the lower level near Ciao’s concession; in Terminal 2 go past the security checkpoints next to Wicker Park Seafood and Sushi Bar; and, if you’re in Terminal 3, listen for the local bands just past security near the entrance to Concourse L. There’s also live music planned for the International Terminal, on the lower level next to the News and Gifts Store.

At Midway today (July 2nd) there’s live jazz music from noon to 3 in the Midway Boulevard Food Court. And on Tuesday there will be live music on the lower level baggage claim area next to the Information Booth.
Tuesday, July 3 and Thursday July 5th, Airport Ambassadors will on duty at Midway handing out complimentary lemonade as well.

And if you want a miniature American flag, just ask for one at a Traveler’s Aid booth at either airport.

At Miami International Airport, there’s a DJ playing “patriotic beats,” Wii games and parades that include parade beads and an opportunity to get your photo taken with George Washington. Check here for locations.

Airports go dark for Earth Hour

It’s time once again for Earth Hour, an annual event in which thousands of cities, towns, homes, hotels and landmarks around the world turn off their lights for an hour, at 8:30 p.m. local time, to make a statement about climate change.

Even if you’re not into the “lights out” movement, the idea that places as diverse as casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, the John Hancock Tower in Boston and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. will turn off the lights for an hour is quite impressive.

Some airports will be participating in Earth Hour as well.

For example, at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the 100-foot-tall LAX Gateway pylons at the airport’s entrance will light solid green one hour before Earth Hour on Saturday, March 31. Then, during Earth Hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., the pylons will be turned off.

And in Chicago, O’Hare and Midway Airports will participate in Earth Hour by turning off non-essential lighting in the terminals, airport facilities and office buildings.

If you know of other airports planning to dim the lights on Saturday, please use the comments section to let us know.