Old Hamm's Brewery to become aquaponic urban farm

7:13 AM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - While the old Hamm's Brewery buildings in St. Paul are a shell of what they once were, the future of the buildings looks bright.

Six stories high and for the past 15 years it's seen more graffiti tags than a railroad train, along with its fair share of partying teens and homeless people.

Now, the founders of Urban Organics have a plan to turn the old brewery into a farming community.

"What's so exciting is we're taking something that was vacant and something that's historic and we're going to grow food in it," smiled Urban Organics' Fred Haberman.

Haberman, along with several others, have gutted the buildings. They are in the middle of brewing something Theodore Hamms himself may have heard of, but didn't tap into.

"This has been out there for centuries," explained Dave Haider, Urban Organics.

It's called aquaponics and on a small scale, the aqua-agriculture works like this. Huge tanks are filled with about 1,500 tilapia fish. The fish, do what fish do, and their water is then filtered and passed on to a raft like layer where plants like spinach, lettuce, basil and herbs will grow.

The plants absorb the nutrients. They also filter the water, which is then sent back to the fish, completing a water-loop and it's all completely organic.

After five years of operation, the plan is to pump out a million pounds of produce a year out of the Pentair Aquatic Eco-system.

"It's trying to find a better way to provide food to a local community," said Haider. "We just simply cannot afford to ship food across country anymore. We have to come up with a better way."

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