Pentair and aquaponics farming innovator Urban Organics, are opening a new, 87,000-square-foot indoor aquaponics farm in St. Paul, Minn. As one of the largest commercial aquaponics facilities in the world, the urban farm has the capacity to grow 275,000 pounds of fish and 475,000 pounds of organic produce annually.
"The world s population is growing, and with it, the demand for fish protein is quickly surpassing sustainable natural fish production. Pentair s aquaculture and aquaponics solutions are expanding farming techniques, including in urban areas, and supporting greater access to protein worldwide," said Karl Frykman, President, Pentair Water. "We joined forces with Urban Organics to help accelerate the development of large-scale modern aquaponics as we believe it can provide a real commercial option to help solve this growing food dilemma."
With advanced water filtration technology developed by Pentair, the system is designed to allow Urban Organics to decouple the fish water from the plant water. This allows Urban Organics to raise fish species in cold water with low nutrient levels, alongside plant species in warm water with high nutrient levels. Waste nutrients from the fish water is concentrated and delivered to the plant water. Additionally, the system was designed for cold-water fish to take advantage of the colder climate in Minnesota, and therefore operate more energy efficiently. LED lighting is also being used to further reduce the farm s energy use.
"Our collaboration with Pentair has helped us achieve our vision of creating a new model for urban agriculture that ensures access to healthy foods, while using less than two percent of the water consumed by traditional agriculture," said David Haider, Co-founder of Urban Organics. "Our local market will get the benefit of our fish and greens, but there will also be a worldwide benefit as we continue to learn from this model and apply its lessons to other locations in the future."
Fish and produce production at Urban Organics is underway, and the farm is expected to be at full capacity in early 2018. Fully certified by the USDA as an organic produce farm, Urban Organics is growing a variety of fresh greens, including green and red kale, arugula, bok choy, green and red romaine, Swiss chard, and green and red leaf lettuce, alongside sustainably-raised Atlantic salmon and arctic char.
Urban Organics is distributing its fish and produce at regional supermarkets, co-ops and restaurants. And, in a first-of-its-kind partnership in Minnesota, Urban Organics is working with HealthPartners hospitals and clinics to put its fresh greens in patient meals, cafeteria salad bars, and retail take-out locations.