Students everywhere are learning how many fish will support how many vegetables and vice versa. In this article children at Eat Nest Elementary School are learning how to maintain the systems tanks and pumps that are necessary for maximum crop yields.
Officials and volunteers are bringing new life to the aquaponics center at Eagle Nest Elementary and Middle Schools, starting with some newborn fish.
Intended to be integrated as part of the school’s science curriculum, the aquaponics system first arrived last school year.
But with time constraints and unforeseen occurrences, the system was difficult to manage.
Now that a new school year is on the horizon, those involved with the project hope this year’s try will bring vegetation with education.
“We should be adding catfish at the end of the month due to the spawning cycle, which are about three-inch,” Lynda Perry, Eagle Nest village administrator and clerk, who has been part of the project since its inception, said. “Over the summer it was completely cleaned and re-plumbed, and it’s working really well.”
More plants also will be brought in as well as more improvements.
“We’ve kind of revamped for the summer and everything that needed to be tweaked,” Perry said.
Jason Sides has been working to help upkeep the system and make it more manageable for the school.
“The biggest thing was we simplified the system a little bit, and we’re going to try to work with catfish or tilapia first because they are easier to raise than the trout and get it working with an easier fish,” Sides said. “We also have been removing the chilling system that was having some issues … It wasn’t doing its job and overloading the circuit. And when that would happen and all the pumps would shut off and the oxygen levels would decrease where fish couldn’t live anymore.”
Sides said they are trying to bring fish in from the state’s breeding program before the fish are to be introduced to the system.
“The state does their catfish breeding program this summer, and we’re waiting for those catfish to get bigger before we put them into the system,” Sides said. “It should be pretty soon. They should be here before school starts.”
The system uses a natural filtering process. As water goes through the system, it carries nitrates from a trout fishery through grow beds, which fosters nutrients for the garden. Once the water flows through the system, it goes back to the fishery and the cycle starts over.
The project is intended to help teach students about botany, chemistry and even commerce. Eagle Nest aquaponics program returns for new school year.
With aquaponics becoming more and more popular the education of today’s population concerning the benefits of this old farming method is receiving more attention to the mechanics and the operations of the systems.