Organic Farm Opens in Former Hamm's Brewery

Updated: 04/10/2014 7:17 PM By: Tim Sherno

The former Hamm's Brewery in St. Paul is producing again, but not what you think.

A farm has moved into the building that has been vacant since 1997. Dave Haider is one of the co-founders of Urban Organic, the new occupant of the Hamm's Brewery  says when his farm is up to full potential it will ship an impressive amount of fresh produce. "We can turn out about 1-million pounds of organic produce each year."

Haider says the plants grown in water that gets its nutrients from fish. "This method of farming is called aquaponics." According to Haider, the waste from fish is pumped to the plants, the plants' roots are suspended in the water and filter out the nutrients from the fish, and the water is filtered one more time and put back in the fish tank.

Haider says the operation will run year round and eventually employ between 24 and 40 people.

Demand for local produce is high, according to Rick Steigerwald, vice president of fresh foods at Lunds and Byerly's, "Everybody wants local, and they're in to eating local. To be able to get this type of vegetables year round really peaked our interest."

According the Steigerwald, they intend to be a regular customer of Urban Organics, "We're going to take as much as we can, as long as we can.  We'll take everything they can produce."