This week Sustainability was all about the fish. And the plants. And the nitrifying bacteria (can’t forget the bacteria!) Link all those things together with a series of tanks and a simple pump and you have a food production system called aquaponics. Aquaponics is the brilliant combination of two water-based farming systems: aquaculture (fish or crustaceans) and hydroponics (plants). By combining the two, you actually create a growing system with less waste and potentially much fewer inputs.
Our aquaponics system will not only provide edible greens (and potentially harvestable fish), but perhaps more importantly to us it provides a world of learning opportunities*. It’s an ecosystem, multiple chemistry lessons, an engineered system that requires troubleshooting, a lesson in shared responsibility for living creatures, sustainable resource management, local food systems, entrepreneurship, and measurement and record-keeping. Plus it’s just plain cool.
Ask your children (1st - 8th) to explain the system to you, why those bacteria are so important, and why we can’t see the fish yet. We’re just getting started and will introduce the plants in the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, the Kindergarteners were all about planting in the more traditional fashion - with trowels in the dirt. They did a beautiful job planting lettuce, mustard, cabbage, and chard plants at just the right depth in the bunny garden (a planter attached to the bunny cage).
I introduced the six plant parts - roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds, and it didn’t take long for the Kindergarteners to recognize that the leaves are the yummy part of all those greens that our bunnies will soon be munching on. I can’t wait to share the aquaponic system with them and help them learn how fish can grow plants, too!
*for more inspiration, check out this Ted talk by Sam Fleming of 100 gardens in Charlotte.