Spark-Y Urban Agriculture Lab

Innovation lab and production facility

In 2016 Spark-Y built and launched a commercial-scale aquaponics system and learning lab, on-site at our Minneapolis office. The "Urban Ag Lab," (UAL) features 4, two-tiered systems, with over 1,300 square feet of indoor growing space. The systems were designed, built, and receive continual maintenance by youth staff and interns. Most importantly, the lab serves as a place for youth to test new sustainable innovations, with access to equipment and space. The Urban Ag Lab is a destination for school students to experience sustainable agriculture in an urban environment.

 
 

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


What's New at the Urban Ag Lab:

from the blog:

VISIT OUR DIY BIO LAB NIGHTS

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


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.

 

Get to Know our OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

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 Zeibol 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."
Destiny

Join Destiny for DIY Bio Nights at the lab.