More than a year ago, a grant by the NC Farm Bureau enabled students at The Learning Center! Charter School to have the opportunity to experiment with an agricultural technique called aquaponics.
Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle in which the waste produced by farmed fish supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purifies the water.
Bill Coleman, a parent of a student at the school, got interested in aquaponics around the same time and experimented and perfected his own system. Coleman, whose wife Judy is a teacher at the school, decided in January of 2014 to offer his volunteer efforts long-term to an“Aquaponics Elective” course at The Learning Center! and built on the previous success of the initial project.
“The design went from 4 square feet of growing area to about 120 sq. ft. of growing area,” said Coleman. “There were issues that took a few months to iron out, and the whole process was two steps forward and one step backwards. The students, however, never faltered and we learned a great deal.”
Since summer, the project has added a few fish to the system and the students, however, are looking forward to the spring planting season.
“We are excited about the community involvement in this important project,” said Coleman.” Materials were donated from local stores such as Lowe’s, TEAM Industries, Wilson’s, Hughes Electric and individuals just wanting to help the kids.
Coleman also noted that there is a student from The Early Collage working on her Senior Exit Project in hydroponics who is helping out.
In this student run system, students explore the feasibility of producing sustainable, organic food for their own school while integrating science and math skills used in everyday life in a STEM learning environment.