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 UMD and Silver Bay Launch Sustainability Project

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A groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 24, 2011. Shown are: Baylor Radke, recent UMD Environmental Studies Program graduate; UMD CLA Dean Susan Maher; UMD Director of External Affairs Susan Banovetz; David Abazs, farmer and senior fellow, Endowed Chair in Agriculture, Univ. of MN; Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson; Representative David Dill; CSCD Director Mike Mageau; and Senator Thomas M. Bakk.

Fish, plants, and algae will produce fuel and food

Top photo: Senator Thomas M. Bakk; Center photo: Representative David Dill; Bottom photo: CSCD Director Mike Mageau.
The shovels used in the groundbreaking ceremony.

Creating jobs, producing fuel and food, and improving the environment is the focus of a partnership between the City of Silver Bay and UMD's Center for Sustainable Community Development (CSCD) to form VICTUS Farms, a project to construct a new facility that will house a self-contained food and energy generating ecosystem made up of a greenhouse, fish tanks, and algae production areas.

VICTUS Farms' process uses waste products from growing fish to serve as a natural nutrient source for plants and algae that, in the end, will produce energy. "There are examples of groups bringing two components together for food production, but this is the first project that we know of in the world to incorporate three systems: fish, plants, and algae," said Dr. Michael Mageau, assistant professor of environmental studies. “Algae is a rich source of renewable energy. They are among the fastest growing plants in the world and half their weight is oil — oil that can be used for fuel." The fish, produce, and algal oil generated by the system will be brought to market and sold for revenue.

"This project represents UMD's dedication to sustainability, life-enhancing research, and working with our region's communities," said Lendley C. Black, UMD Chancellor. "Growing renewable fuel is an exciting step toward energy independence."

The new facility is located in the Silver Bay Eco-Industrial Development Site just north of the Silver Bay traffic lights on Scenic Highway 61.

Through the partnership, approximately 1.2 million dollars have been raised to construct the 8,600-square-foot facility, currently under construction. UMD's CSCD has spent three years assisting the City of Silver Bay to plan and to secure funding for the project. The CSCD will design, install, and inoculate the production system in the first half of 2012. It will coordinate all process operations as well as on-going research and educational programs. In return, the CSCD will receive the revenues generated by the facility.

Joining Mageau on the design team are David Abazs, farmer, senior fellow, and Endowed Chair in Agriculture, Univ. of MN; Baylor Radke, recent UMD Environmental Studies Program graduate; and Andrew Klemer, UMD emeritus professor of biology.

Funding Support:
U of MN's NE Region Sustainable Development Partnership – 5K
MN Pollution Control Agency – 40K
Iron Range Resources – 262K+
MN State Legislature – 299K+
MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development – 597K+
MN Lake Superior Coastal Program $30K
Total: $1,230,000+

Written by Cheryl Reitan, Oct. 2011

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