Students and teachers of the Darryl Jordan Secondary school are using new technology to supply their homes, communities and even their school canteen with pure, organic food.
Instead of using harmful chemicals to grow their plants, students are using discharge, faeces and waste from fish and other aquatic animals to feed their produce directly through a process known as aquaponics.
“What we have here today is a great step in the journey towards the injection of innovation and excitement in agriculture,” said Senior Agriculture Teacher Timothy Kellman.
Meanwhile, head of Aquaponics at the Trents, St Lucy school, Akilah Brooks, stressed the school was pushing the production of organic food, at a time when health experts continue to underscore the dangers of consuming genetically modified foods.
“We are not incorporating pesticides. We are just feeding the fish and making sure the fish are healthy so that they can supply our system. Other than that, this is really organic and easy to maintain, once you get started.
“If you have enough time and materials, you can provide for your neighbourhood and it can grow from there. You can become one of the rear marketers of whatever products you have, because a lot of people like natural products and this actually is a method of producing natural, organic products,” she said.
In an interview outside the shade house where the project is taking root, she revealed that lettuce, sweet peppers, tomatoes, beets and herbs would be among the fruits of their labour.
The proud science teacher said students from first to upper-fifth forms have dedicated much of their energy to the project, which is one of the first of its kind in the country.
“You have to know how much pots we’re going to have in our system and how much water we’re going to need, how much fish you’re going to have and how much fish you’re going to need in your tanks and how many times a day you’re going to feed your fish,” she said.
While Brooks admits that the task of keeping students engaged in a scientific project of this nature requires time and effort, she says students, through their interest and dedication, continue to make the job of teaching much easier.
“These children… know a lot of these things already because they love fish… The theory behind these things can be difficult if you’re not a lover of this kind of thing, but once you get involved, it becomes quite easy. When you practice these methods, it becomes quite easy,” she stressed. (KS)