Feeding the Movement

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Pioneering Story

Haberman tells the stories of pioneers making a difference in the world. Every now and then, the story is our own.

With Urban Organics, we’re actually writing a whole new story. About food. Sustainability. Urban renewal. About how fresh vegetables are growing inside an old brewery on the east side of St. Paul. Year-round, even in the dead of winter. A story about the revival—and modernization—of an ancient agricultural technique that just might ease the world’s energy, food and water crises. We call it farming reimagined, and in writing the story, we’re feeding a global movement to make a better food system—for the people, by the people.

Challenge

So what’s the problem with the food system? Advocates for change point to the industrialized production of cheap, processed foods—a system that creates food deserts, particularly in urban areas, where access to fresh, healthy food is hard to come by. It’s a broken system, wreaking havoc on our health and environment. Haberman, which has been working with pioneers in the good-food movement for more than 20 years, wanted to disrupt this system. We were also curious about what it takes to launch a business in this industry. We’ve helped many others in the organic world—what could we learn if we experienced it all ourselves? Our goal was not only to make a difference but also to launch an entirely new category in organic food and, in the process, harness the power of storytelling to be a voice for change.

Solution

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Our approach: take an old idea and make it new. With Urban Organics, Haberman and partners modernized the ancient technique of aquaponics to raise tilapia and grow healthy vegetables and herbs, year-round, indoors. And in the spirit of renewal, we chose to locate the facility on the east side of St. Paul, in the historic Hamm’s Brewery, which had been a neighborhood landmark for more than a century before it closed in 1997. Now fully restored, the brewery is home to a fully sustainable, closed loop method of farming—including a first-of-its-kind filtration system designed by Pentair—that uses just two percent of the water required for conventional growing. Urban Organics’ harvest—kale, Swiss chard, parsley, basil and cilantro—reaches local grocery store shelves within a day.

Naturally Haberman crafted the brand story. We developed a platform, messaging and visual identity that invites consumers to connect with not just the product but with the bigger movement. For the Urban Organics website, we chose to tell a complex story as simply—and visually—as possible, leading visitors on a virtual tour of not only the concept and facility but the food system as a whole.

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Results

With Urban Organics, we converted five stories of concrete into a farm. We’re helping a neighborhood get back its swagger. We’re not only bringing freshly grown food to people who haven’t had access to it before, we’re also spurring economic development and combatting climate change with sustainable, local farming.

Urban Organics has been profiled everywhere from Newsweek and Fast Company to Modern Farmer and The Guardian.