Urban Organics is working to fix a broken food system one delicious meal at a time. The concept is simple. Local equals fresh. Fresh equals nutritious. Nutritious equals healthy, for people and community. The process is equally simple. Urban Organics farms with aquaponics, where fish and plants help each other grow. We’re making it happen right now in Saint Paul at the former Hamm’s Brewery. Our mission is to inspire a better food system for the people, by the people.
Urban Organics co-founders (left to right): Chris Ames, Dave Haider, Kristen Koontz Haider, Fred Haberman
Fred Haberman is CEO and co-founder of Minneapolis-based Haberman, a full service marketing agency with a clearly defined mission — to tell the stories of pioneers making a difference in the world. A long-time food activist and advocate for organics, Fred and his firm have worked with many leaders in the industry: Organic Valley, Annie’s Homegrown, Earthbound Farm, Organic Trade Association and more. In 2006, Fred founded the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, an event ESPN.com listed as among “101 things sports fans must experience before they die.”
Dave Haider grew up learning about fish from his father. Together, the two of them raised and sold fish to local aquariums. Dave worked in construction for 16 years and developed an expertise in water features such as ponds and fountains. He built nearly all of the Urban Organics growing system and manages daily operations. A Saint Paul native, Dave grew up with close ties to the Hamm’s Brewery. His great-grandfather worked there for more than 40 years. Dave and his wife Kristen are both partners in Urban Organics.
Kristen Koontz Haider grew up in in rural Wisconsin and knows farming from hands-on experience. Her grandparents had a dairy farm, and she helped with farm chores during visits. Today at Urban Organics, she’s involved in a new kind of farming community, this time in the city. In addition to planting, pruning and harvesting, Kristen managed the organic certification process and helped it expand to include details related to aquaponics. She’s also interested in educational opportunities within the community that Urban Organics can facilitate.
Chris Ames grew up in Saint Paul and has lived in the city his entire life. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management with a double major in accounting and finance, Chris is managing partner of The Landmark Real Estate Group and works closely with the City of Saint Paul on many development projects. For Urban Organics, he established the financial structure of the company, recruited investors and negotiated with the city for the purchase of the facility. Currently, Chris is identifying new markets and evaluating expansion opportunities.