Apr 15, 2014
Brewing Up Organic Veggies All Year-Round in MinnesotaBy Tim Hodson

Earlier this month, Urban Organics unveiled its new USDA-certified organic aquaponics farm inside an old Hamm’s Brewery in St. Paul, Minn.

The facility grows fresh organic vegetables that are sold to local grocery stores as well as tilapia for a wholesale supplier of fresh and frozen seafood in the Twin Cities.

Urban Organics owns six floors in one part of the brewery where they currently are growing Swiss chard, green kale, red kale, cilantro and parsley. Plans call for other products like spinach and trout to be produced on other floors in the brewery in the future.

Using four 3,000-gallon fish tanks, each containing 1,000 fish, the fish wastewater is filtered and then pumped into the growing beds to feed the plants and is then re-circulated back into the fish tanks.

Each floor of the brewery will have 20,000 plants that can be harvested every 50 days and also will produce 5,000 fish every nine months. When fully operational, the facility is expected to grow nearly 1 million pounds of produce annually.

In spite of Minnesota’s freezing cold winters, the facility will be able to grow fresh produce all year long. “To have freshly picked produce on the shelves in February is very unusual in Minnesota,” company co-founder Fred Haberman told the Star-Tribune. “We’re introducing a new growing season in Minnesota – winter.

Check out the news reports on this new facility by clicking here.

It’s interesting to see how entrepreneurs are finding new and innovative ways to incorporate hydroponics and aquaponics into the existing infrastructure. Do you have any stories like this in your area? If you do, I’d like to hear about them. Drop me a line at [email protected].

– Tim

Tsunami’s After-Effects Push Ag Indoors in Japan

In 2011, a tsunami devastated much of Japan and crippled one of its major nuclear facilities. The resulting radiation contamination of the region’s food supply caused many Japanese consumers to question the safety of the local food supply and turn to imported fruits and vegetables, leading to the demise of many local farms. Now hydroponics are helping solve both of these problems. Japan currently has approximately 150 hydroponic plant “factories” growing safe and cost-effective produce. In the next 5 years 10 percent of all the lettuce grown in Japan is expected to be grown hydroponically. One producer, Spread Co., grew more than 7.3 million heads of lettuce in 2013.

New Hydroponic, Organic ‘Farm of the Future’ Debuts

Late last month, Alegria Fresh, along with Orange County Produce, LLC and Filtrexx Corp., debuted the “Farm of the Future” hydroponic and organic farming demonstration center at the Great Park in Irvine, Calif. The demonstration center features high-performance urban hydroponic vertical and organic farming methods. Thirteen different specialty crops are being grown to demonstrate the versatility of the system and prove that urban microfarms can be profitable with no subsidies required. “Our goal is to show people how to grow superior produce within the urban environment while substantially reducing the impact of food production upon our planet,” said Erik Cutter, managing director of Alegria Fresh.

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Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at [email protected]

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