US (MN): Container farm leaves city inspectors confused

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, the Pioneer Press reported. 

"We didn't think there was going to be all this bureaucratic overhead," said Cannon, noting similar Freight Farms facilities are already in operation at a Second Harvest Heartland site in Minneapolis and an independent farm in Shoreview.

Read more at Wisconsin State Farmer (Frederick Melo)


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