AQUAPONICS

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In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the Betty Marler Center, Mr. Zeiner and his horticulture class have initiated an aquaponics growing center.  The goal of the aquaponics center is to grow the herbs and spices needed in the kitchen, thus helping the Betty Marler Center become more self-sufficient and environmentally friendly.  An average pound of produce requires roughly 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of water to grow, significantly stressing water supplies in areas prone to drought such as Colorado.  Through the aquaponics process, that same pound of produce can be made with just 5 to 10 pounds of water.
                          
The process is a highly unique and complicated process, which utilizes a bio-integrated system that links re-circulating aquaculture with hydroponic vegetable, flower or herb production.  Essentially, fish living below the growing tray produce waste that is high in nitrates.  These nitrates are then pumped into the root system of the plants, and plants grow at an exponential rate.  The plants then oxygenate the water which is returned to the fish. 
 
 “It’s an exciting process, and the kids have done a great job grasping the concept and putting it into action” said Mr Zeiner.  The students in the horticulture class are responsible for the entire growing center which includes taking care of the fish, the plants, and harvesting all the herbs and vegetables.  To initiate the growing process, the students had to clone various plants in a highly complicated sequence that was conducted solely by the students.  “There is a lot that goes into it, and it’s a delicate balance we have to monitor closely, but it’s rewarding when we get to make recipes and enjoy the vegetables we grow” said a student.  While the growing center is in its infancy, the horticulture program will look to expand the process into mass production in the very near future.