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Aquaponics – How to for the class room and home application

As part of our mission to push sustainable thinking, we have been working with local schools to help them bring environmental education into the core curriculum and their school culture.  This year we are pushing small Aquaponic systems to class rooms and home environments.  Most NYC schools do not have the property to have outdoor gardens, as well as, most families that live in urban environments do not have outdoor spaces. Helping in the creation of these mini Aquaponic systems will give others the opportunity to grow herbs and vegetables and the understanding of ecosystem dependence from a small scale to the larger picture we are struggling with globally today. Here is a PDF file that will show what is needed to put a mini system together – M3D-Aquaponic-system-howto.

Why Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. Fish produce wastes that turn into nitrates and ammonia. These aren’t good for the fish if they build up too much, but they’re great fertilizer for plants. As the plants suck up these nutrients, they purify the water, which is good for the fish.

Fish are kept in large tanks and the plants are grown hydroponically; that is, without soil. They are planted in beds with a little gravel or clay and their roots hang down into the water. The water is cycled through the system, so that it collects the “waste” from the fish; then it’s pumped to the plant beds, where it is filtered naturally by the plants and can then be returned to the fish tanks. Unlike traditional farming methods, no chemical fertilizers are needed for the plants: they all come from the fish-waste. Once the system is set up, only a little extra water is needed to make up for evaporation, because the same water is constantly recycled.

Here are some topics that could be used with these mini systems:

* Ecosystem maintenance and dependency

*Recycling – water and other products

*Agriculture and healthy eating to other food related topics

*Science topics and experimentation with different plant growth cycles and different eco environments can be created in the classroom.

I see these kind of systems being used at a larger scale in our infrastructure to individual building design.  We need to start looking at how nature works and designing to create a harmonious ecosystem for our own surroundings.


This article was written by: mayacamou

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