Urban farming is not a new idea to some, but to many young, up and coming Philly kids, it is not in their vocabulary, what is….Papi stores, bags of chips and fruit flavored soda. Not what you would find on a list of super foods. How did an aquaponics curriculum get started in a public school in West Philadelphia? Well….
A drug bust, an administration with big ideas and little time, a few teachers with lofty goals, a Dow Chemical Company Community Grant and some really determined students. This article that explains how this idea got started in one principals head: Aquaponic Farming Takes Root in Urban Food Desert
In the end twenty-five of my students were able to build, maintain and study aquaponics systems in an inner city public school on the West side of Philadelphia. Using ten gallon aquarians containing black and silver striped cichlids, plastic trays and some tubing, students learned how to build a system that could grow basic plants like lettuce and basil.
As they studied plant growth, fish anatomy, physiology and behavior, beneficial bacteria and the ecosystem that harbored these lifeforms, they learned that plants depend on animals, plants also depend on bacteria and of course vice-versa. This is something most inner-city students do not get the opportunity to realize let alone study first hand.
In the classroom next store students studied larger sized cichlids-Tilapia, a fish that most people know is farm-raised and used as a food source for humans and other animals.
I was very proud of my students and I know they were very proud of me. I applied for the grant, wrote the proposal, did the legwork to find the supplies, and finally it all came together.
My main hopes were that some or all of my students would walk away with a greater appreciation for biology, the study of life, and that maybe some of them would go on to study this science in college.
- Love one proud teacher