Inside Track: Garden Fresh Farms cultivates more honors

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 26, 2013 - 8:57 PM

Garden Fresh Farms grows basil year-round in these tanks at its 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Maplewood.

Photo: Richard Sennott •,

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Garden Fresh Farms of Maplewood, a recent Minnesota Cup winner, received the regional sustainability award at this month’s annual conference of the Minneapolis-based Midwest Cleantech Open.

Garden Fresh will join regional finalists Ornicept, Prairie AquaTech and Akhan Tech at the Cleantech Global Forum Nov. 19-21 in California.

Also, Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation has selected Garden Fresh ( as a national semifinalist in its “American Start-up” competition among 39 start-ups.

Co-owner Dave Roeser started Garden Fresh in 2010 in a warehouse to demonstrate through year-round vegetable harvests, the commercial practice of aquaponics, which relies on raising fish, piping water rich with nutrients from fish waste to fertilize the plants, which clean the water before it is returned to the fish tanks.

Justin Kaster, a former investment banker in New York and the Twin Cities who heads the Midwest Cleantech Open, said the event at the Depot Hotel and conference center is growing.

“We had 85 exhibitors and 320 people registered, compared with 200 last year,” said Kaster, 36. “If you want to make this worth the time of investors and other people coming from Texas or Boston or China, you have to have 500 companies. We hope to get there within five years. Because we’re a regional/national organization, we can convene these influencers and our investors and accelerator companies and bring them together. And that’s how introductions and investments and business is done.”

Cleantech isn’t just about energy, but any product, service, or technology that uses natural resources more efficiently, sustains or enhances the environment, Kaster said.

The Midwest Cleantech Open organization, founded in 2010 and housed at the collaborative work space CoCo in the Grain Exchange building, has helped drive the growth of 70-plus Midwestern companies, including Atmosphere Recovery of Eden Prairie in 2011, which took the national sweepstakes. Since 2006, the national Cleantech Open says 700 alumni companies have raised more than $800 million in capital and created thousands of jobs.

North side Pumped Up

It took a few months longer than planned, but north Minneapolis chiropractor and entrepreneur Tara Watson on Thursday, joined by Mayor R.T. Rybak and others, will inaugurate her Anytime Fitness, the first Anytime franchise on the North Side and the only adult fitness facility in the community.

Watson located near the rebounding commercial hub of Penn Avenue and W. Broadway and has invested more than $300,000 to renovate and equip about 5,200 square feet of her building that also houses her chiropractic clinic.

“I’ve heard from a lot of neighbors and other people in north Minneapolis who have to work out elsewhere and who are interested in a fitness facility in their community,” Watson said. “This brings a much-needed service … that’s accessible and affordable [with memberships starting at $45 per month].”

Watson’s Anytime Fitness, open 24 hours, seven days a week, will feature strength training, cardio equipment, exercise classes, personal trainers and massage. Membership at one club gives members access to 2,200 clubs on five continents as well as to free access to, a wellness website.

Watson, a New York City native trained as a nurse at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, came to Minnesota to earn her chiropractic degree from Northwest Health Sciences University. She opened her Watson Chiropractic in 2003. She will employ up to 10 workers.

Hastings-based Anytime Fitness operates more than 2,000 franchised facilities around the globe.




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