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University of Minnesota Extension

Ramsey County Farm Family

Christopher and Barbara Glasoe

The Glasoes started Frisk Fra Boksen (Norwegian for fresh from the box) in 2019 as an idea/dream. The couple’s first hydroponic shipping container farm was delivered on a bright, sunny, minus-10-degree day in January 2020. The first crops were harvested in early March.

The Glasoes’ initial target market was small farm-to-table restaurants that wanted hyper-fresh, clean-grown, green leafy vegetables. The day Chris and Barb were going out with samples, Minnesota closed in-person dining for restaurants because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They pivoted to an online farmers market, donated produce and worked with restaurants that started curbside pickup or delivery.

They now have ongoing relationships with several restaurants as well as an online retail presence. They added a second farm in May 2023. Each farm has a capacity of between 2.3 and 3.2 acres of "tillable" space. The variation is due to the variety of crops planted. The farms use LED lighting that is designed to provide the optimal frequency and intensity of light. In addition, the nutrients are calibrated to maximize growth with tap water from the Shoreview water supply. This is accomplished through periodic testing to determine the level of nutrients available. The nutrients used are then blended to maximize what is already available and add in only what is missing.

The Glasoes are often asked if their produce is "organic.” The answer is no. The requirement of using OMRI-certified nutrients makes it difficult because those nutrients have the downside of clogging up the plumbing. There is no need to use herbicides or pesticides because of the controlled environment.

Growing time is between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., primarily to take advantage of off-peak electric rates as well as to maximize efficiency of the HVAC system that runs 24/7 all year long. Without the HVAC running, even in sub-zero weather, the interior temperature will rise to over 90 degrees along with humidity over 90 percent.

Barb and Chris run the farms with occasional help from family and friends. They provide tours of the farms to interested individuals, schools, and organizations that want to learn more about hydroponic container farming. In addition, the couple donates excess produce to various non-profit organizations.

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