Topher Jacobson, AKA Pepperboy, has been in the restaurant business as an owner for over 20 years. During this time, he has seen the deterioration of commercially distributed food. This ultimately led him to invest in a aquaculture center, and he has been driving the Grow Safe food movement ever since. The skills as a Chef, CEO, and CFO make him uniquely qualified to direct this endeavor. Many years of team management and the success of team building enforces Topher’s vision to help communities of all sizes “take back their dinner table.” 

Take back your dinner table! See how Grow Safe helps you and your community  grow your own food year round.

Our team leader

Grow Safe Minnesota realizes that it is an organization vital to helping people understand there is a new way to feed themselves. For more than 20 years, Topher Jacobson has devoted his energy to passionately advocating for the consumers’ rights to high quality, fresh and safe foods. Now is the time for people to take control of what they put on the table. The Grow Safe Minnesota team wants to help communities eat, grow, and live safely. With the help of public and private donors, those willing to appreciate the benefits to be received by their communities, Grow Safe Minnesota can achieve its mission.

Buildings repurposed!Every small town has vacant buildings that Grow Safe can use to house its operations. Let's reuse not tear down!!


With every community that Grow Safe enters, the most important partners are the local volunteers that are passionate about growing their own  foods safely.


mission & vision

For small communities, giving their citizens access to fresh, safe food is becoming increasingly more difficult. Grow Safe will help bring the very best and freshest products while maintaining a small carbon footprint.


​The journey into aquaponics began for Topher and Mary Jacobson on a day they visited a store that sells hydroponics and other grow-your-own systems. They knew about aquaponics but had only heard of these systems being used to raise tilapia. The store clerk they encountered was the first to suggest yellow perch as a viable option, and they were sold. Yellow perch is a coldwater fish, ideal for the colder climates faced by the midwest, as opposed to the more high-maintenance tilapia, a warmwater fish. Furthermore, yellow perch has become a valuable commodity due to their decimated spawning fields, meaning far less yellow perch is growing naturally in the United States.The cost effectiveness of raising yellow perch in the Midwest, along with its limited natural growth and high consumer demand, make the commercial value of yellow perch over 4x that of tilapia. The Jacobsons built their own aquaponics system, and less than a year later, Pepperboy Farms Aquaponics is growing four thousand yellow perch and about thirty percent of their restaurant’s produce. They have been amazed by the density of the plants and the growth rate of the fish. The process has been remarkably easy. Mrs. Jacobson, who has no background in farming, is growing exceedingly healthy tomatoes, peppers, lettuces and herbs, amongst other vegetation. Mr. Jacobson, who has no background in water chemistry, conducts daily testing and treatment, and he always knows what is in his system’s water, something he is certain commercial food providers cannot say. The Jacobsons have enjoyed watching their food growing in a safe, self-contained environment.
Having experienced the success of Pepperboy Farms Aquaponics, the Jacobsons began reaching out to other like-minded individuals and soon had a group of interested people discussing how to get small communities involved. As the group reached out to others, funds began coming in, and they decided collectively that a non-profit entity should be the vehicle for creating the grow-your-own network. The Grow Safe Minnesota team believes that as sites develop, the aquaponics movement will grow exponentially. They will appeal to communities, municipalities, educational sites, health care facilities, government agencies, foundations and private groups to donate monies to help build local aquaponics systems. These systems will then, in turn, be used as resources to educate and feed the people within their communities. The Grow Safe Minnesota team has determined that it will not need to stop there. Grow Safe Wisconsin is already in the beginning stages of implementation and could readily expand to Grow Safe branches throughout the midwest, including the Dakotas, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. All participating communities within these states will garner the same benefits as applies to Grow Safe Minnesota: education on safe eating, ownership over food consumption, and locally grown fresh, healthy, safe foods 12 months out of the year through a self-sustaining environment.