Mission Investors Exchange National Conference: Brownfields Bus Tour of East St. Paul

On May 14th, Martha Faust, the Executive Director of Minnesota Brownfields, along with Scott Marquardt organized a tour of remediated brownfield sites on the East Side of St. Paul for a group of participants in the Mission Investors Exchange National Conference.  The bus tour visited a number of sites in the East Side, including Beacon Bluff, Baldinger Bakery, Urban Organics at the Hamm’s Brewery, and the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.

The first stop was Beacon Bluff, the former 3M world headquarters that was acquired by the St. Paul Port Authority in 2009.  Since then, the site has been cleaned up and is now being sold in parcels for redevelopment by private companies.  Next, the tour visited Baldinger Bakery, a state-of-the-art industrial bakery that produces buns and rolls for McDonald’s and Arby’s.  The LEED Silver certified building is remarkably efficient, recovering heat from the oven stack to power itself and reduce the need for conventional electricity.

The third stop was Urban Organics, a year-round organic farm based in the former Hamm’s Brewery.  In partnership with Pentair, Urban Organics uses an aquaponic system to grow greens and tilapia.  In this way, the fish waste provides nourishment for the vegetables and the vegetables in turn clean the water for the fish.  The operations at Urban Organics are highly efficient, using just 2% of the water used in conventional farming, and have provided a base for further re-use of the Hamm’s Brewery site.

The last stop of the tour was the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, a 27-acre park in the Mississippi River floodplain on former industrial and railroad land.  The park that stands there today is the result of a collaborative effort between the Lower Phalen Creek Project, the Trust for Public Land, and the City of St. Paul.  Not only does the park provide green space for residents of the East Side, but also its trails connect throughout the East Side as part of the Bruce Vento Regional Trail.

The following video presents highlights of the bus tour: