Aquaponics in the Classroom Sets up Students for a Growing Industry

Sourced from WGME

Aquaponics is increasingly popular in Maine. It's a way to grow fish and plants at the same time indoors, allowing for a fresh supply of locally grown produce all year round.

Kale, oregano, basil, and more - all thriving inside the aquaponics facility at the University of New England in Biddeford.

"Aquaponics is a way to produce a lot of food in a small footprint virtually anywhere," says Zach Miller-Hope, Assistant Director for Education at UNE and Assistant Lecturer in Aquaculture and Aquarium Science.

He says aquaponics is ideal in urban environments where farm-fresh produce may be further away and in wintry climates when you can't grow locally in the cold weather, like in Maine. With an indoor aquaponics set-up, you can grow fresh fish and vegetables just about anywhere, like on walls and rooftops, which can result in a very efficient use of space to grow food. He adds that aquaponics can often produce food more efficiently than common agriculture in soil.

Miller-Hope describes aquaponics as the "marriage between aquaculture and hydroponics". Aquaculture is the practice of growing fish or aquatic plants, and hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in water instead of soil. Aquaponics combines the two - growing fish and plants in the same system.

The fish waste feeds the plants like a fertilizer, and the plants clean the water for the fish in return. It forms a symbiotic relationship helped along by a bit of mechanical filtration.

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