Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) into one closed loop, sustainable system that uses the fish waste to provide an organic source of nutrients for hydroponically grown plants. In other words, sustainable food production happens both in the water and above it.
In March 2014, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada awarded Niagara College funding from the Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grant to purchase and install two independent aquaponics systems, including four 110-gallon fish tanks and eight grow beds with a total of 144 square-feet for hydroponic growing, along with aquariums for breeding.
Today, the bright blue fish tanks and pale blue growing boards filled with leafy greens take up a little more room in the main greenhouse. The greens are being harvested on a regular basis to be prepped by the students of the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, and served in Benchmark restaurant. The tilapia grown in the tank are also harvested and served at Benchmark – the College’s teaching restaurant. This is a great example of just one of the living teaching tools provided to our students – in this case, for both horticulture and culinary students!