Silver Bay Biofuels and Food Greenhouse

Food vs Fuel? Greenhouse facility in Silver Bay will produce both!

Want to see what happens when a small community in Minnesota rolls up its sleeves and gets to work on clean energy, local foods, and local entrepreneurship?

Then head to Silver Bay, Minnesota, population 1,900, nestled along the shores of Lake Superior. Back in the day (fall of 2008) people started plotting and scheming about how to turn an underused business park into an Eco-Industrial Park, and they’re now making that dream a reality.

The focus of the Biofuel and Food Greenhouse Facility at the Eco-Industrial Park is creating jobs by producing organic food and renewable fuel. Their main inputs are fish feed, electricity, heat, and water, which are derived from locally-produced algae and biomass, and readily-available wind and rain. The main outputs are fish (about 12,000 pounds of tilapia per year), organic produce (starting with lettuce, basil, cilantro, parsley, sprouts, and mushrooms, with lots more to come), and algae (oil extracted for biodiesel and remains fed back to fish).

Dreaming Big: In the spring of 2009, the Northeast Clean Energy Resources Team (NE CERT) facilitated a meeting with local city officials, regional entrepreneurs, University of Minnesota folks, and others already moving forward on planning a concept and design. You can check out the agenda to learn more about that meeting.

Breaking Ground: In the fall of 2011 CERTs joined the project partners for the groundbreaking of the Silver Bay Eco-Industrial Park. To learn more about the groundbreaking and the park, see a presentation from the city, a story from WTIP and a video by yours truly, below.

Grand Opening: This summer, Silver Bay opened its new Biofuel and Food Greenhouse Facility in their Eco-Industrial Business Park. It’s a joint project between the city of Silver Bay and the University of Minnesota. Mayor Scott Johnson says that he hopes the facility will provide enough energy to take a few businesses off of the power grid, and attract new businesses. The grand opening coincided with the annual Bay Days celebration, and there was a parade leading up to the event! Watch the story below from WDIO about the grand opening.

Inspiring Leadership: This is a great opportunity for people to see how entrepreneurial and environmental businesses can create good jobs right here in our communities. There is really strong clean energy leadership right here in our own backyard, and the business leaders in Silver Bay are leading the way.

Way to go people of Silver Bay! So… What is your vision for your community? Leave a comment below to let me know!