Is Urban Commerical Aquaponics Actually Viable?
That’s one question that Urban Organics and Pentair will no longer have to answer. They recently opened up a second Urban aquaponics facility in St. Paul, MN. This second facility is 10x the size of their previous facility at a staggering 87,000sqft. This makes it one of the biggest urban aquaponics facility in the country. With this second facility, they validate the urban aquaponics model and showcase that their model can be scaled upon.
After proving out their model in an abandoned brewery in St. Paul the Urban Organics and Pentair team knew they could confidently scale with their second facility. Their success in scaling their first facility is not only a big win for them but a big win for the overall industry. The more and more operations are not only able to expand but actually scale their operations on their second facility the better. This showcases to banks, investors, venture capital, that these operations are worth supporting. Not only that they are worth supporting but that they can have returns and can scale in a way traditional farms simply could not. It is also very encouraging to farmers, entrepreneurs, and hidden farming groups as it’s one more example of a viable model. The more and more “would-be” urban farmers can see examples of sustainable and scalable business models the more will decide to start their own farms.
Can you really produce a lot of food in a city?
That’s another question Urban Organics will never have to answer. Their new facility is able to produce 275,000 pounds of Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Char every year! That is a lot of protein! Being able to produce that many pounds of sustainably produced fish in an urban environment is so impactful. Protein is one of the biggest users of rural farmland to meet the high protein demand of our modern American diets. If St. Paul residents ate a pound of protein a day, then this facility could feed 753 residents.
The crazy part is that’s only the fish they are producing. These systems are actually masters of plant production. The new facility will also produce 475,000 pounds of greens on top of all that fish. All out of just 87,000sqft in an old Brewery warehouse. Old factories and warehouses are all over America from our industrial revolution days. However, these days a lot of these factories are no longer in use as mining, milling and manufacturing were outsourced by technology or to other locations.
And it’s Resource Efficient?
This question they’ll be happy to continue answering as they know their method uses 2% of the water it would take to grow the same amount of crops in the field. So not only are you saving 98% of the water, but with that 2% you do use, your also getting the edible fish with it. The fish take the savings even further by being a sustainable source of nitrogen for the plants! Your inputs are way down, and your outputs are exponentially increased over traditional farming techniques.
The farms of our future are not only here, they are expanding. This new facility between Urban Organics and Pentair costs an estimated $12 million. For a company with the history and the financial acumen to make that investment, it’s a smart investment in their future. They’ll use this investment to showcase that aquaponics is not just viable for small commercial operations but also significant large-sale indoor farming operations. In doing so, we hope they inspire others to make the investment and take advantage of the unused warehouse space every city has to offer.
To read the complete original story with quotes from the owner of Urban Organics, click here.