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Minnesota-based grocery chain Lunds and Byerly’s is selling the first crops from a new large-scale indoor acquaponics farm in the Twin Cities.
Urban Organics, located in the historic Hamm’s Brewery building in East St. Paul, offers immediate access to hyperlocal, organic fresh greens, which can now be found on shelves in the produce departments of Lunds and Byerly's stores. “Our mission is to inspire a food system for the people, by the people,” said 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.”
Sustainable Urban Farming
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.
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,” said 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.”