For almost 20 years the Hamm’s Brewery building in Saint Paul has been an abandoned, run-down eye sore. However, it has recently been purchased and renovated to be a location for Urban Organics.
Urban Organics has done much more for our community than just remodeling a building. Inside the old brewery lives an aquaponics system. Aquaponics is a cyclical water ecosystem where fish aid plants to grow, and vice versa. Urban Organics will sell both vegetables and fish to local businesses, promoting a local and healthier food choice.
Urban Organics will be able to sustain a year round market for their produce. The veggies are grown with the water that is nourished by the fish. It has been a system used for centuries. The closed loop system connects the fish’s tank by tubes to the vegetables. This method uses less than 2% of water than conventional farming — a huge saving on a finite resource we humans need to preserve.
What’s in stock? Currently Urban Organics is growing Italian parsley, green kale, red kale, green Swiss chard, red Swiss chard, cilantro, and lacinato kale. The only available places to purchase Urban Organics produce are Lunds at Ford Parkway, and Byerly’s in Roseville and Saint Louis Park. Urban Organics is expecting to expand on the number of grocery outlets it serves.
The fish nurturing the plants are Tilapia, and are being sold to a Minneapolis business The Fish Guys.
There are four 3,000 gallon tanks each holding 1,000 tilapia. The fish’s waste sinks to the bottom of the tank, which is then filtered, removing sludge. The nitrate which comes from the fish is pumped into the rows of vegetables. There is no dirt involved. The plants’ roots are completely submerged in water where it soaks up the nitrate directly.
Not only is Urban Organics able to harvest fresh vegetables in Minnesota year round, but they are doing it at a faster pace. Farm grown kale usually takes 60 days until its ready for harvest, but Urban Organics has kale operating on a 28 day cycle until it’s ready, more than twice as fast.
So here we have a local business, providing and cooperating with other local businesses, as well as creating jobs for our community. They are able to provide fresh, local, and healthy produce. This also eliminates oversea shipping which in turn reduces the carbon footprint of Urban Organics.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where mystery shrouds what’s in our food and where it comes from — it shouldn’t be a luxury to trust what we are eating. Urban Organics goes against the grain of large food-producing companies who are in it only for profit, adding growth hormones and other toxins, something good for business but not for the human body. In America, our citizens are in desperate need of natural, healthy options — hopefully our future is bright with more businesses like Urban Organics.
Photos via: Urban Organics