Edmonds Community College received a $9,500 grant from the Sustainable Path Foundation to build an aquaponics system
Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAgE) students are helping to design and build the system, which will be used for student instruction, research and food production. The system is made up of two aquaponic units — a unit consists of a pond and raised planting beds.
“The system will provide students with a hands-on opportunity to learn cutting edge new science and participate in the research adding to their portfolio and experience,” said Zsofia Pasztor, Horticulture instructor.
Pasztor — who will be teaching hydro and aquaponics systems — hopes to build the system this winter, start cycling (running the system and balancing the level of good bacteria, ensuring both fish and plants will thrive in it) in early spring, and have the system running by late spring. The system will be located at the campus community farm and will be inside another hoop house.
“The development and refinement of these systems will be instructional for our urban agriculture students as well as farmers in the Pacific Northwest where very little sustainable aquaponic system models are available,” said Tim Hohn, Horticulture instructor.
Aquaponics is the integration of recirculating fish culture with hydroponic plant production. In fish-only aquaculture, nutrient-rich water is extracted from the system and released to the environment on a regular basis to manage nutrient levels within the system. In aquaponics, this nutrient-rich water is seen as an asset instead of a waste and is utilized to cultivate plants. The plants feed on and filter fish waste and the fish feed on a portion of the plant material.
The SAgE program is a National Science Foundation-supported collaborative based in the Horticulture Department at Edmonds Community College with Seattle Central College and Skagit Valley College as partners.
The curriculum focus of SAgE at Edmonds CC is applied training in whole systems, urban agriculture, and food systems enterprise operations including food hubs.
A regional non-profit, Farmer Frog, is partnering with both the SAgE program and the campus community farm as a satellite farm site. Farmer Frog provides oversight, programming, activity coordination and support with infrastructure and training of the urban farmers.
Winter quarter begins Jan. 5 and registration is underway. SAgE is offering classes Vegetable and Herb Production I (HORT 241) and Fruit and Nut Production I (HORT 247) this winter.