Henderson County High received a $10,000 grant from the America’s Grow Rural Education Program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, which they used to build an aquaponics system in their greenhouse.
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. It is a closed-loop system where fish produce waste which is converted into plant fertilizer by bacteria which the plants being grown hydroponically use for growth, thus filtering the water for the fish.
At Henderson County High, the students are responsible for taking care of the plants and fish in the aquaponics system. Many of the students prefer taking care of the aquaponics system to other work in the greenhouse. A student at HCHS, Tra Duckworth, said in regard to maintaining the aquaponics system that “it’s better than putting plants in dirt.”
The aquaponics system in the HCHS greenhouse currently has 60 tilapia babies in the fish tank. Henderson County High plans to harvest these fish once they reach maturity, about 1 foot in length, to serve alongside the lettuce grown in the system at a Farm to Table event. Through this event they hope to advocate for aquaponics agriculture.
In addition to the aquaponics system, HCHS has a hydroponic system in their greenhouse. Hydroponic systems operate very similarly to aquaponics systems. The only difference between the two is processes is the source of fertilizer. Hydroponics systems use a liquefied solution of inorganic elements to fertilize the plants compared to using fish waste.
EcoLife – Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Kit & Aquaponics Education
What differentiates ECOLIFE’s ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit from similar products is the educational curriculum that is paired with the system to create an integrated aquaponics teaching kit that is perfect for schools K-12.
Executive director William Toone founded ECOLIFE Conservation, an organization dedicated to a world in which humans and nature live harmoniously. Established in 2003, ECOLIFE was created to help fill this important gap by using conservation as a tool—not only to protect our remarkable natural world—but also to protect and improve human lives.
ECOLIFE provides aquaponics education for schools with a combination of their aquaponics systems and accompanied curriculum. Their educational programs include a K-12 STEM curriculum that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. ECOLIFE has provided their aquaponics systems to over 500 classrooms making them a leader in aquaponics education.
ECOLIFE provides teachers two options when choosing an aquaponics systems. The first option is the ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Education Program, which includes a ‘plug and play’ aquarium conversion aquaponics kit with an accompanied educational curriculum perfect for teachers who want an engaging in-class experience. The ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit, a ‘plug and grow’ system, converts a standard Tetra 20 gallon glass aquarium (other aquariums with the same dimensions are compatible) into an indoor garden that enables the user to grow organic produce or ornamental plants in their home.
The second option teachers can choose offers a more complex and involved experience for students. Teachers can apply for the ECO-Garden Program, which allows their students the opportunity to design, engineer, budget and build an outdoor aquaponics system.
Low-Cost DIY Rain Barrel Aquaponics System
The Appalachian Homestead Aquaponics System is produced using a 55 gallon blue rain barrel as the fish tank. Another identical rain barrel cut in half and flipped upside down on top of the fish tank acts as a grow bed. The irrigation system is comprised of a water pump attached to PVC pipe that runs from the fish tank up to the grow bed above. Like most aquaponics systems, the water uses the force of gravity to drain from the grow bed back into the fish tank bellow.
To Build Your Own Rain Barrel Aquaponics System! Materials:
Steps to Build Your DIY Rain Barrel Aquaponics
Enjoy harvesting fresh fish and produce from your sustainable recycled DIY aquaponics system!!
*The original instructions can be found on Instructables.com