Spark-Y Urban Agriculture Lab

Innovation lab and production facility

Spark-Y headquarters at the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis also houses our Urban Agriculture Lab (UAL). The UAL is home to a two ton, timber-frame microgreen system, designed and built as an internship project in 2018. Youth cultivate and maintain the system, and the produce grown is sold to local co-ops, restaurants, and CSAs.

The UAL is a place for young people to gain on-the-job training, a testing ground for new scientific ideas and sustainable innovations, as well as a destination for students and the community to experience agriculture in an urban epicenter.


The Kirk. K. Marschel Urban Agriculture Lab boasts:

A full-scale micro greens operation and food produce job path

Bio Safety Level 1 Lab

DIY "bio-hacking" open lab nights

Vermicomposting / vermiculture, mushroom cultivation, and spirulina systems

Tours and workshops


Upcoming Workshops + Events:

Spark-Y hosts Urban Ag Lab tours every other Thursday, dates and details below:


DIY BIO: Join resident science and biology expert, Destiny Ziebol for DIY Bio nights, hosted at the Spark-Y Urban Ag Lab:

What's New at the Urban Ag Lab:

from the blog:

Our Vision:

"The grand vision for the Spark-Y Urban Ag Lab is as a local sustainability hub, providing community resources for students, entrepreneurs, and individuals who seek to learn more about sustainable alternatives through interactive facility tours, in-depth workshops, hands-on volunteering opportunities, and other training events.  It is also a place where like-minded people can come together to collaborate and share their ideas and visions." 
-Sam Menzies, Operations Director

3 areas of focus for the Urban Agriculture Lab:


Grow and Test Ideas:

The UAL is where we evolve ideas and test sustainable innovations. Many of the ideas generated at the lab are scaled and implemented into classroom programming.


Youth Employment

We provide on-site employment to youth at the UAL, along with real-world training for students and interns. The space also hosts workshops and tours to the public.


Sustainable Economic Model

The lab itself is a production facility, meaning an economically viable and scalable proof-of-concept prototype for growing food sustainably in an urban environment.




Sam Menzies heads the Urban Agriculture Lab here at Spark-Y. Along with overseeing all of the sustainable system builds in our school programs and annual internship, Sam focuses his efforts on two areas within the organization:

First, as we begin to demonstrate that waste is not only a resource, but a valuable one, concepts like ‘zero-waste’ and waste stream utilization will no longer be seen as pipe dreams or fringe ideas, but will actually become essential for businesses to thrive,” he says. Sam’s systems maximize profits through Earth stewardship and natural resources.  

Second, Sam believes in the vast social potential of the sustainable principles taught at Spark-Y, including overcoming food deserts and the social justice implications of community gardens and sustainable education in urban environments.

Through Sam's system designs and role at the UAL he promotes an achievable, modern way of re-processing waste streams to promote self-sufficiency and community equality.

get to know our lab director

Destiny Ziebol is Spark-Y's Lab Director, providing new science technology to the UAL. She equips our education facilitators with knowledge and classroom kits that keep our educational programs scientifically innovative. Destiny leads DIY Bio nights at the lab for an open opportunity to learn and engage in biology-based projects.

"My mission is to increase science literacy in the Twin Cities by providing hands-on opportunities to practice current and relevant methods. My goal is to enhance all Spark-Y branches by delivering data driven and up-to-date solutions, while educating our staff and interested general public."

Join Destiny for DIY Bio Nights at the lab.