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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.