Encouraging our children to eat more vegetables can be notoriously difficult. It is never the less, utterly essential for their future health. Combining vegetable growing with the keeping of fish brings colour, movement and excitement that children will simply adore. Make the appliance of Science and Maths both practical and fun by installing an aquaponics system.
Reduce children’s reliance on technology and get them ‘back to Nature’ in a safe and clean environment. Promote the well-being of children of all abilities. he inherent versatility of aquaponics guarantees that there will be system ideally suited to every school.
Stengths of aquaponics
- Active involvement of children growing their own fruit and vegetables.
- Caring for fish. Teach the importance of caring for living creatures. Children love to feed and bond with fish.
- Systems can be built indoors or out. Make use of any available space. Bring redundant buildings back to life.
- Ready market for produce. Offer something back to the children. Reduce running costs and teach practical economics. Everyone prefers to eat food they have produced themselves. Many children will have ponds in their gardens or aquaria in their homes. They would love to house any surplus fish produced.
- No messy soil. Keep the children clean and eliminate soil borne pests and diseases.
- Low maintenance. No watering required and very little, if any, weeding. Who wouldn’t love that?
- Demonstrate plant/animal relationships. There is no better way to demonstrate the Nitrogen Cycle in action.
- Safety. Fish (and plants) are quiet, safe to handle and do not bite. Oh, and delicious!
- Regular attention usually required. As with all living things. Foster a sense of responsibility. Lack of food for a day or two should not be a problem, and may even be beneficial. Automatic feeders however, are readily available, cost effective and reliable. Weekend cover should not be a problem.
- Holiday management required. Overcome this by selecting plants that need little attention over the summer holiday period. Sow fast growing and quick maturing plants.
- Long term commitment. All biofilters need time to mature. A commitment of several months is usually required when first starting out. However, there is little to do over this period and maturation will generally take care of itself. Keep feed levels low by operating well within the carrying capacity of your system. Once matured everything becomes well balanced.
- Disabled access. Engage with children of all abilities. Raised beds promote easy wheelchair access.
- Use of redundant buildings. The addition of lighting, heating and ventilation systems allows the use of many redundant buildings.
- All year production. By incorporating lighting, heating and ventilation production s possible throughout the year.
- Power failure. Fish depend upon the continuous operation of pumps to provide oxygen and clean water. Overcome this threat by using air pump as an additional source of aeration. In addition, always have a spare water pump available. Exciting opportunities to develop smart monitoring systems with web cameras.
- Disease. Always a threat with any living creatures. Prevention and treatment are an inescapable ingredient of any caring system. Select plants and fish that are hardy and have strong disease resistance.
Recommendations for aquaponics for schools
- Goldfish would be an ideal choice of fish. These are readily available, hardy and easy to care for. Breeding is relatively easy. Any surplus fish can be made viable to parents with garden ponds or indoor aquaria. Disease medications readily available.
- Avoid plants that need harvesting over the summer holidays. Lettuce, peas and beans would be a better choice than tomatoes or peppers. Strawberries are always popular and tie in well with the school year.
- Install in a low cost polytunnel. This will allow activities throughout the year and independent of the weather.
- Install a small lighting system. Demonstrate the requirement for light of plants. Extend the growing season and improve observation of the fish.
Further information for other users;
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