It's harvest time in St. Paul.
Does it seem a little early? Not for the aquaponics farm at the old Hamm's Brewery, which was unveiled to the public this week, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal says.
Aquaponics has been called the future of farming. The year-round, sustainable hybrid farming method combines aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water). The fish and plants help each other grow. And nothing goes to waste, IEEE Spectrum says.
What happens is the nutrient-rich wastewater from the fish tank is used to nourish vegetables and other plants, which then filter the water that is pumped back into the fish tank. The plants feed the fish – and then are fertilized by their poop.
Urban Organics, the first-ever 100 percent USDA organic-certified commercial aquaponics farm in Minnesota, runs the farm at the old brewery. The farm has four 3,000-gallon fish tanks, each with 1,000 fish, and uses a filtration system designed by the Golden Valley-based company Pentair, according to the Business Journal.
Produce grows nearly twice as fast in the aquaponics system than it does on a normal farm – Urban Organics says it can harvest its crops about every two weeks, WCCO says. Lettuce, kale and herbs are currently ready for harvesting.
This spring, Urban Organics started selling its vegetables to Minnesota-based Lunds and Byerly's grocery stores, and soon Minneapolis-based The Fish Guys will distribute its tilapia locally, the Business Journal says.
This farming process has typically been used outdoors in warm climates, but bringing it indoors has provided cold-weather climates like Minnesota with fresh produce year round, IEEE Spectrum says.
Urban Organics expects to harvest about 1,000 pounds of lettuces and fresh herbs and up to 50 pounds of fish by the end of the year, according to IEEE Spectrum, which would make it one of the world's largest indoor aquaponics facilities.