Aquaponic urban farm takes over former Hamm's Brewery building in St. Paul

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Keane Amdahl
Urban Organics, one of the nation's largest aquaponic farms, has opened for business in the former Hamm's Brewery building in St. Paul.

All six floors of the building will eventually be utilized by Urban Organics's aquaponic system and 18 3,500-gallon tilapia tanks will be scattered throughout. At peak production, the Urban Organics farming system is projected to yield 720,000 pounds of greens and 150,000 pounds of fish per year. As of now, only one floor is fully operational.

The produce -- which currently includes 100% organic certified kale, Swiss chard, Italian parsley, and cilantro -- is already being sold at select Lunds and Byerly's locations in the Twin Cities.

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Take a peek inside the remodeled Town Hall Brewery

The floor that opened to the public on April 10 features four long rows of aquaponic plants and four fish tanks, each connected to a plant row. As onlookers move down the line, the tilapia drastically increase in size.

Keane Amdahl

Fred Haberman, the co-founder and CEO of Haberman (the company behind the infamous Austin logo), is a co-founder and partner of Urban Organics.

"Our mission is to inspire a food system for the people, by the people," he said in a statement.

Urban Organics worked closely with Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems out of Schaffhausen, Switzerland to design and install the aquaponic system.

"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," said Randall J. Hogan, the chairman and CEO of Pentair.

Keane Amdahl

Aquaponics combines aquaculture, the production of aquatic animals, with hydroponics, the practice of growing plants in water, in a closed-loop system. The plants receive water from the fish tanks, which they break down into healthy nitrates and nitrites they use as nutrients before the water recirculates to the fish tanks.

Though Urban Organics is primarily focusing on greens, over 250 plant varieties can be grown in a closed-loop recirculating aquaculture system, including papayas, bananas, squash, beans, okra, and pineapples.

Sustainability-wise, Pentair claims their system puts out minimal waste, reduces pressure on over-fished species, and, as a local food source, eliminates excessive food miles.

"The innovation and passion of the Urban Organics team is inspiring, and I'm proud to welcome them to St. Paul," St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement.

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Well the water may not directly kill germs but warmer water aids in reverse soaponification which removes more grease which is how we rid our hands of germs, by washing them away with our hand oils. Does this study test the cultures from the hands exposed to the same conditions? Does it look at human behavior to find out if warmer hands cause people to wash thair hands longer? If not I find it highly dubious.

Sadly, scientists have come up with so many contradictory studies that I no longer give credence to any of them.  Why are medical utensils sterilized?  Why do we wash dishes in hot water? Why do we boil water in third world countries?  Perhaps I'm horribly misguided, but I thought it was all to kill germs and bacteria.



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