Urban Organics and Pentair Honored as 2017 Agricultural Project of the Year

Urban Organics Honored By WateReuse Association For Agricultural Project Of The Year

Urban Organics and Pentair have been quietly leading the commercial aquaponics industry in St. Paul, MN. Pentair is a leader globally in sustainable water solutions, particularly in the aquaculture industry. They have been working on developing technologies to make aquaponics more commercially viable for about a decade. In 2014 they teamed up with Urban Organics.

The two companies first started working together when Urban Organics opened its inaugural aquaponics farm in 2014, in the former Hamm’s brewery building in St. Paul. Pentair, with its innovative technologies in water systems and solutions and biological and technical expertise, worked closely with Urban Organics to design, install and engineer the world-class system—one of the largest and most advanced aquaponics facilities in the country. The team from Urban Organics redeveloped the Hamm’s Brewery building and transformed 8,500 sq. ft. of the space into a fully-operational indoor aquaponics farm which houses four 3,500 gallon fish tanks with 4,000 Tilapia in total.

Urban Organics Honored as Agricultural Project of the Year.
Urban Organics original pilot facility at the Hamm brewery in St. Paul, MN

Earlier this year they opened up a new facility about ten times the size of their first one. It is one of the largest commercial operations in the country and as we have covered before has created unique partnerships and distribution channels to get all its produce from its facility to the the consumer within 24 hours.

Their new 87,000sqft vertical aquaponics farm utilizes less than 10 percent of the water that would be required for conventional farming while producing 275,000 pounds of fish and 475,000 pounds of organic produce annually. It was for this new farm that Pentair and Urban Organics honored by WateReuse Association for their 2017 Agricultural Project of the Year award.

It’s a great prestige and recognition for one of the few commercially successful aquaponics farms in the country.

“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 significantly water than 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.”

Urban organics has also been one of the few success cases in the aquaponics industry form an investment standpoint. They were able to take on investmnt to prove out a pilot farm, determine market demand and fit, establish partnerships and then expand on a proven model. Too many, like the infamous Viridis Aquaponics, try to jump in at too large a scale and never finding their market.

It’s always easy to fall into the trap of bigger is better and more produce means more revenues. But as with any venture, you need to know the size of your market and how you can fit into it before you commit everything you’ve got to it. Pentair and Urban Organics went about opening a large facility the right way. They focused on a pilot project that could establish market demand, worked out their system mechanics, and gave years of reliable data and insights into what makes the model repeatable and scalable. Then they built the huge facility.

To read the full story including a video interview with the founder of Urban Organics check out this release here.

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