The MBS 6th Grade class began a unit on food security on March 30th. Although the students usually plant seeds under a grow light in the classroom, geography teacher Lisa Swanson got this year’s project started by planting broccoli, peppers and cantaloupe in her own backyard. The students will be able to follow the garden’s progress via video updates over the next few weeks.
“I like to start the unit by first connecting the students to food in a personal way,” said Mrs. Swanson. “We usually have two gardens going — one under the grow lights and the other in the Science Center using the aquaponic system. Having them tend to a classroom garden and see the process of growing vegetables helps them understand food security challenges around the globe.”
The students planted seeds in the aquaponic system before they left for spring break. In the aquaponics system, a large “grow bed” of lettuce sits atop a 300-gallon water tank stocked with tilapia. The basic principle of the system is that fish waste is pumped up from the tank and serves as a source of water and nutrients for the plants, which are not grown in true soil. The plants essentially filter and clean the water, before it drains back down to the fish, and the cycle continues.