Urban Organics is working to fix a broken food system one delicious meal at a time. The concept is simple. Local equals fresh. Fresh equals nutritious. Nutritious equals healthy, for people and community. The process is equally simple. Urban Organics farms with aquaponics, where fish and plants help each other grow. They’re making it happen right now in Saint Paul at the former Hamm’s Brewery. The company’s mission is to inspire a better food system for the people, by the people.
In September, Urban Organics and Pentair, a global company helping its customers produce more food, energy and efficiencies from each drop of water, announced a unique collaboration. Urban Organics Pentair Group, LLC was established to accelerate the development of commercial scale modern aquaponics. Their first venture has been set in motion with the purchase of the former Schmidt’s Brewery building in St. Paul, MN. Construction is underway on the 87,000 square foot indoor aquaponics facility. When complete, this will be one of the largest commercial aquaponics facilities in the world and will annually provide 275,000 lbs. of fresh fish and 400,000 lbs. of organically grown produce.
The two companies first started working together when Urban Organics opened its inaugural aquaponics farm in 2014, in the former Hamm’s brewery building in St. Paul. Pentair, with its innovative technologies in water systems and solutions and biological and technical expertise, worked closely with Urban Organics to design, install and engineer the world-class system—one of the largest and most advanced aquaponics facilities in the country. The team from Urban Organics redeveloped the Hamm’s Brewery building and transformed 8,500 sq. ft. of the space into a fully-operational indoor aquaponics farm which houses four 3,500 gallon fish tanks with 4,000 Tilapia in total. Aquaponics uses two percent of the water of required in conventional farming. The waste-filled water is released from the tanks through gravity and seeps into a filtration system designed by Pentair. The system removes sludge and leaves the water clean and filled with nitrates. The water is then pumped into rows of vegetables growing underneath fluorescent lights. This all happens without any dirt—the roots dangle free in the water, soaking up nitrates.
A BRIEF HISTORY ON URBAN ORGANICS
The Urban Organics project at the Hamm’s Brewery location has been open for over two years, developing a sustainable food system and building the economy in a part of St. Paul, MN, that has previously been considered a food desert. East St. Paul is home to the 106-year-old former Stockhouse No. 3 building used by Hamm’s brewing Co. The team from Urban Organics redeveloped the building and transformed 8,500 sq. ft. of the space into fully-operational indoor aquaponics farm. Urban Organics, brought to life by Pentair’s products and expertise in this field, is currently home to four 3,500 gallon fish tanks with 4,000 Tilapia in total. Produce items being grown include basil, mint, watercress and lettuce. The monthly production rates for produce are 800–1,000 lbs. and the monthly fish harvest is 1,000–1,200 lbs.
WHAT IS AQUAPONICS?
Aquaponics is becoming increasingly popular, with more people finding innovative ways to produce multiple crops in their recirculating systems. Aquaponics systems are recirculating aquaculture systems that incorporate the production of plants without soil. In typical recirculating aquaculture systems, the goal is to produce large quantities of aquatic biomass in small amounts of space and with small volumes of water. In such a system, waste products can accumulate if not physically removed or otherwise filtered via mechanical or biological means. Aquaponics systems remove the organic buildup and metabolic byproducts by reuse through the plants grown hydroponically. Essentially, you feed the fish, the fish produce waste, that waste is filtered out, and the remaining nutrient-rich water is used to grow plants for consumption.
For further information about Urban Organics, visit UrbanOrganics.com and for technical and equipment questions or to learn how you can start your own aquaponics operation, call 877.347.4788.