As an astronomer and physicist, John Cannon’s work is literally out of this world. His expertise as the department chair at Macalester College in St. Paul is studying nearby low-mass galaxies.
Cannon’s latest adventure off St. Paul’s Snelling Avenue is, quite literally, more down to earth: backyard hydroponics.
With the intent of saving his home planet, or at least improving his corner of it, Cannon recently launched the urban agriculture venture Minnesota Acre Farms LLC with a full-time gardener and two administrators from the University of St. Thomas.
Their thesis: proving that a railroad car-sized growing container behind Wells Pianos, by Snelling and Palace avenues, can produce as many fresh vegetables as a two-acre farm, and do it year-round.
Their bottleneck? The city of St. Paul won’t let Cannon and his colleagues put their nutrient mix to the test until they get the proper permits for whatever it is they’ve got — a shipping container? a storage facility? — which defies simple definition under the city’s legislative code.