Pentair Shutting Down Urban Organics Aquaponics Facility In St. Paul

Pentair Shutting Down Urban Organics Aquaponics Facility In St. Paul

NANCY KUEHN | MSPBJ

Urban Organics Grows Leafy Vegetables Like Swiss Chard At Its Aquaponics Facility, But The Wenture Will Close Next Month.

By Mark Reilly  – Managing Editor, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

May 15, 2019

Urban Organics, a startup that had established an ambitious fish-and-produce aquaponics venture in the former Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul, has lost the support of corporate partner Pentair and will close next month.

The Star Tribune has a report on the announcement from Pentair (NYSE: PNR), which surprised local restaurateurs who had become some of Urban Organics' biggest evangelists, touting the benefits of sourcing food locally.

Pentair, which is legally based in England but has its operational headquarters in Golden Valley, said only that the aquaponics business "did not meet our expectations." 

Urban Organics will close by June 14, laying off 27 workers.

Urban Organics, launched by by Dave HaiderKristen HaiderFred Haberman and Chris Ames, opened its first operation in the former Hamm's Brewery five years ago, growing produce and raising fish in a venture designed to showcase the potential of urban farms. The idea behind aquaculture is that both fish and plants can be grown in a nearly closed-loop system, with fish providing fertilizer for plants and plants cleaning the water for the fish.

Urban Organics unveils aquaponic fish and vegetable farm in old Hamm's Brewery

Urban Organics unveiled its aquaponics farm in the old Hamm's Brewery. The facility raises fish and grows vegetables.

The Schmidt Brewery location aimed much higher: At 87,000 square feet it was 10 times the size of Urban Organics' first venture, and Pentair's participation, in theory, lent more resources and a bigger name to the concept. Pentair bought out Urban Organics' other owners a year ago, the Star Tribune notes, though Haider stayed on as general manager. 

The facility may have encountered production problems. Though it turned out produce, Tracy Singleton, owner of Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis, said Urban Organics never began harvesting arctic char and rainbow trout as expected in the Schmidt site.

Pentair said it didn't know what it would do with the Schmidt Brewery facility.

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