Marine science students at Tates Creek High School are raising largemouth bass and growing vegetables without soil in a new three-level aquaponics station, which recycles water in a sustainable food-production model.
In the simple setup, water from the fish barrel trickles into the grow beds, which routinely drain so the roots get some air and the plants aren’t overly saturated. The water then is pumped back into the barrel of bass.
“Throughout generations, it’s been done. It’s the whole idea of being sustainable and increasing your output with low input,” said teacher Diana Mullins. “In this closed system, the plants are taking less time to grow, so you’ve got a faster turnaround. In six months, the fish will be about plate-size.”
The project is a collaboration with FoodChain, a local nonprofit run by Becca Self.
“The great thing is the fish and the plants have a symbiotic relationship. The fish waste is used by the plants as food, and they filter the water so it’s clean to go back to the fish,” Self said. “It uses less than 10 percent of the water that conventional agriculture uses, so it’s a really environmentally friendly way of producing food.”