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Indoor Aquaponics Farm Opens for Business in Minnesota

Urban Organics, a large-scale indoor aquaponics farm located in the historic Hamm’s Brewery building in East St. Paul, Minn. is now open for business. Urban Organics will offer immediate access to fresh, delicious and healthy foods for the Twin Cities community. Its first crops — hyperlocal, organic fresh greens — are on shelves at select Lunds and Byerly’s stores.

Aquaponics is the combined culture of fish and hydroponic vegetable crops in a closed-loop, recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). In aquaponics, fish provide the nutrients that plants need to grow, and the plants act as a filter to improve the water quality for the fish. Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems, Inc. and its team of experts including engineers, horticulturists and biologists worked with Urban Organics to design, install and engineer the world-class system—one of the largest and most advanced aquaponics facilities in the nation.

“Our mission is to inspire a food system for the people, by the people,” says Fred Haberman, co-founder and CEO of Haberman and co-founder and partner in Urban Organics. “We are starting with a community-rooted, self-sustaining aquaponics facility in an area in need of economic revival — East St. Paul.  But this is a test for a movement that can be scaled nationally and internationally. This level of aquaponics could change the world of farming as we know it.”

At Urban Organics, kale, Swiss chard, Italian parsley and cilantro are the first crops, and tilapia will follow in mid-summer.  These fresh, organic local greens don’t depend on the weather or growing seasons and will be available year-round. The produce will be in stores within a day of when it is harvested — the freshest, most local produce available at grocery stores.

“The world’s population — and more specifically the middle class population — is growing, and with it, the demand for fish protein is quickly surpassing sustainable natural fish production. Aquaponics has the potential to help meet the demand, while reducing pressure on fish populations in the wild,” says Randall J. Hogan, Chairman and CEO of Pentair. “Our expertise in water systems and solutions allows us to re-imagine fish farming in a sustainable way that provides a real commercial option to help solve this growing food dilemma, and potentially support urban growth and renewal.”

“This remarkable transformation from stockhouse to aquaponics farm is a true testament to how these old brewery buildings can be revitalized,” says Chris Coleman, Mayor of St. Paul, Minn. “The innovation and passion of the Urban Organics team is inspiring, and I’m proud to welcome them to Saint Paul.”

Urban Organics is an indoor aquaponics facility providing hyperlocal, sustainable, year-round fish and greens to the Twin Cities. To learn more, visit urbanorganics.com and facebook/uo.saintpaul.

Fresh Express Issues Recall of Limited Quantity of Already Expired Italian Salad Due to Possible Health Risk, No Illnesses Cited

Fresh Express Incorporated has issued a recall of a limited number of cases of 10-ounce Italian Salad with the already expired Use-by Date of March 26 and a Product Code of H071A11A due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall and no other Fresh Express products are being recalled.

The company is confirming with retailers that the expired product has already been removed from store shelves and inventories in accordance with its strict procedures for products that have reached their expiration date.

Only Fresh Express Italian Salad with the specific Product Code of H071A11A and March 26 Use-by Date is included in the recall. Consumers who have the recalled product should not eat it but rather discard it. Consumers with questions may call Fresh Express at (800) 242-5472 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EDT.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause foodborne illness in a person who eats a food item contaminated with it. Symptoms of infection may include fever, muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. The illness primarily impacts pregnant women and adults with weakened immune systems. Most healthy adults and children rarely become seriously ill.

Although the product was already expired and no illnesses were reported, the company elected to issue a recall as a precaution when it learned a single sample in a random test had yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes.  Fresh Express icoordinating closely with regulatory officials.

The recalled salad was distributed in limited quantities to predominantly Eastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

Fresh Express Italian Salad being recalled displays a Use-by Date of March 26, 2014 with a Product Code of H071A11A in the upper right-hand side of the package.

Bolder Beans for a Bloody Mary

Bolder Beans produces crunchy, pickled green beans and other pickled vegetables that are a healthy snack, a perfect addition to a Bloody Mary, or even a great gift. Pickle people enjoy Bolder Beans right out of the jar as a good, healthy snack. In fact, Bolder Beans are sugar-free, fat-free and even gluten-free. There are less than 100 calories in the entire jar and each serving has only 1 carb. In addition, there is nothing artificial added and all ingredients can be pronounced. Simply open up a jar and start snacking on these crunchy, tasty treats that are full of flavor and won’t make you feel guilty if you happen to eat the whole jar.

Bolder Beans started as a wonderful addition to a Bloody Mary. Just add a couple pickled green beans instead of a piece of celery, and your Bloody Mary is transformed. These spicy, pickled beans add a lot of flavor and kick up the zip in any Bloody Mary. Owner of Bolder Beans, Rogue Edwards, stated, “I first tried a pickled green bean in a Bloody Mary in New Orleans. When we returned home to Colorado, we couldn’t find anything we liked, so I decided to make my own!”

Whether for a healthy eater or a Bloody Mary lover, Bolder Beans make a great gift. A single jar is perfect for a hostess gift, a teacher appreciation item, a pot luck dinner, or just a simple thank you. Purchase a jar online at www.bolderbeans.com or custom order a gift box that will really stand out. Multiple jars can be selected and added to a gift box complete with a bean fork and a ribbon for that special touch. Prices range from $8 a jar to $30 a gift box depending upon the items selected.

For the Bloody Mary lover, a Bolder Beans Bloody Mary gift set is really unique. This special gift box includes a jar of Bolder Beans, Bloody Mary concentrate mix, rim salt, a bean fork and even a pack of beef straws! Just add the vodka, and it is a complete set that will make any Bloody Mary lover smile. All gift boxes can be ordered online at www.bolderbeans.com or call 720-578-BEAN for more details.

Bolder Beans come if three tasty flavors: mild, medium and hot. The mild beans have a big, bold, dill pickle taste that are crunchy and zesty without the added heat. For the medium flavor, a jalapeño is added to the jar to give it a big, bold kick with a peppery jalapeño taste. A habañero is added to the hot and gives the bean a sweet heat. Enjoy all three of these flavors for a different taste with just the right amount of heat. Whether they are chopped up in a salad, added to a Bloody Mary, or eaten right out of the jar as a good snack or an easy appetizer, they are sure to please any pickle person.

In addition, Bolder Mushrooms, Bolder Garlic and Bolder Mix-Up are tasty treats for those who love pickled foods. Bolder Mushrooms are mild with an earthy mushroom taste that complement the pickling flavor to produce the perfect texture, tenderness and taste. Add Bolder Mushrooms to omelets, pizzas, salads or even a martini for a zip that will awaken your tastebuds.

Bolder Garlic is the perfect treat for the garlic lover. Each jar is filled to the top with individual garlic cloves that have been pickled to perfection giving each bite a mellow garlic flavor with a punch of pickle flavor and the heat of a jalapeño. Use them wherever you use garlic, or eat them right out of the jar. Just make sure that others eat them with you!
Finally, Bolder Mix-Up is an easy “appetizer in a jar.” This combination of pickled veggies includes green beans, carrots, cauliflower and mushrooms. It is the perfect addition to a relish tray and each veggie has a bold, pickle taste that is available in mild for everyone to enjoy!

 

British Entrepreneurs Plan to Farm Specialty Produce in London Underground Tunnels

Two entrepreneurs, Richard Ballard and Steven Dring, have teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux, Jr to create a working farm in an extensive tunnel network beneath London’s Northern Line.

The subterranean farm, which will start trading later this year, will produce a range of micro-herbs, shoots, miniature vegetables and other delicacies that will be sold to restaurants, supermarkets and wholesalers. The tunnels will provide 2.5 acres of growing space.

The tunnels sit beneath the Northern Line near Clapham North tube station in London.

A crowdfunding campaign starts today, giving investors of all sizes the chance to buy a stake in the project from as little as £10. First deliveries of produce to customers are expected to begin in the late summer.

Specially- designed structures to house the three-layer growing platforms are currently being constructed in Yorkshire. Growing trials have been conducted over the last 18 months in the tunnels and are still underway.

The farm will be carbon neutral. Special low energy LED bulbs and an integrated hydroponics system are used. One hundred feet of earth above the tunnels keep temperatures steady at around 16 degrees centigrade all year round and energy consumption at a minimum. Any energy needs will be fulfilled from green suppliers, and the proximity of the tunnels to New Covent Garden market and London’s many restaurants will keep food miles to a minimum.

“When I first met these guys I thought they were absolutely crazy,” said Michel Roux Jr, “but when I visited the tunnels and sampled the delicious produce they are already growing down there I was blown away. The market for this produce is huge.”

Richard Ballard and Steven Dring hatched the idea two years ago after lengthy debates about how to achieve a carbon-free economy and how to deal with the pressures of urban population growth. Since then they have been working out how to bring their vision to reality. Chris Nelson, an expert horticulturalist used to growing crops in some of the harshest conditions on the planet, is a core member of the team.

Richard Ballard said: “Steve and I are thrilled to be close to getting Growing Underground underway. We’ve been experimenting for months. Now that we’ve secured the site we’re kicking off a crowd-funding campaign today. We have a detailed business plan, and we’ve already had lots of interest from private investors. We’re confident that investors of all sizes will see a significant return on their investment. Integrating farming into the urban environment makes a huge amount of sense and we’re delighted that we’re going to make it a reality.”

He added: “There is no ‘could,’‘might’ or ‘maybe’ about our underground farm. We will be up and running and will be supplying produce later this year.”

Steven Dring said: “When we showed Michel our farm for the first time, he thought the rumble he could hear was my stomach. It was actually a Northern Line train about to go overhead.”

The tunnels were originally used to house people sheltering from air raids in World War II. All fittings and reminders of its past were removed decades ago, although a nearby tunnel network, which retains bunk beds, has been listed by English Heritage.

Full scale work on the farm will commence in March and the first ‘Growing Underground’ produce will hit restaurants and shops by late summer this year. Initial crops will include a range of exotic herbs and shoots, including Pea Shoots, Rocket, Red Amaranth, Mizuna, Broccoli, Garlic Chives, Red Vein Sorrel, Mustard Leaf, Radish, Coriander and Thai Basil. Edible flowers and miniature vegetables will also be grown. Stage two crops will include heritage tomato varieties, and mushrooms.

Special filters keep the air in the tunnels free of pests, eliminating the need for pesticides.

The crowdfunding campaign, complete with a video that shows the tunnels, is at http://www.crowdcube.com/investment/zero-carbon-food-13724. Investors can get a stake in Growing Underground today for as little as £10. For £25,000, investors will get voting rights. A full business plan with projections can be found on the site.

Michel Roux Jr has joined the company as a director and will be advising on crop selection, product design and partnerships.

California Table Grape Commission Awards Teaching Grants

The California Table Grape Commission has awarded 37 teaching grants worth up to $750 each to schools in the table grape growing regions of California’s San Joaquin and Coachella valleys.
The funded projects will be implemented in classrooms during the current school year.
More than 2,500 students, grades K-12, will benefit from the classroom projects made possible through funding by California’s table grape growers. Examples include conducting science experiments in an after-school program, starting a school garden, purchasing and using music equipment, going on a museum field trip, and producing and performing a theatre production.
“There are a lot of creative classroom ideas funded through this program,” said Kathleen Nave, President of the commission. “The projects combined will benefit thousands of participating students in California’s table grape growing regions.”
The Innovation in Teaching education grant program was created in 1993 to support innovative classroom projects in the table grape growing regions of California’s San Joaquin and Coachella valleys. For more information about the program, go to www.grapesfromcalifornia.com/EducationGrants.

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