Farming without soil? One Dougherty Co. school is teaching kids about aquaculture

Video from WALB
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:02 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) -The International Studies Elementary Charter School in Albany has brought in a new aquaculture project. They’re using fish, plants and water and adding them to their curriculum.

Students have a chance to learn the process of growing plants right in their backyard. They learn the process of planning, collaborating and just letting the process work.

“Aquaponics (aquaculture), which is the use of water to grow plants without the use of soil, and that always interested me. So we began our thought process of just having an aquaponics. However, all the children were talking about fish they wanted to be a part of fish so that they thought of a way to incorporate more than just water plants and animals as well,” Assistant Head of the International Studies Elementary Charter School, Nancy Gay said.

Students get a chance to learn the physical skills of learning how to grow plants. But they have to understand it’s not always a quick process. Most of the plants they grow are collards, cabbage and even tomatoes they served fresh to their school on Tuesday.

Aquaculture is important because it can help increase food production while keeping waterways...
Aquaculture is important because it can help increase food production while keeping waterways clean. With this new addition, students learn the process of planting, growing, and just letting it work.(Source: WALB)

Fifth grader, Dennis Ryals, is an active member of the new garden and says he has enjoyed the experience so far.

“My favorite part is just how beautiful the plants are, and we can help feed our school,” Ryals said.

Another fifth grader, Jalexia Riggins, says that being involved in the new Aquaculture makes her want to go into agriculture as well.

“It makes me feel happy that I’m doing something for the community, because I love to help people a lot, And I would say it’s my personality because I love to help me,” Riggins said.

Albany students on Tuesday said their initial reaction to this garden was “surprising” as they did not have this before. Some students even will consider going into an agricultural field after graduating.

“It makes me happy because next year, I will not be at this school. I will be at another school, so spending my time here at the garden is what makes me happy,” fifth-grader, Kelvin Hernandez said.

One fifth grader says that although he will be switching schools next year, he is excited about what he gets to learn with this new aquaculture. Each student has a hand in helping the garden grow, but fourth-grader Tyra Jordan said she loves the positives it has on the school.

“My favorite part about planting seeds is watching the plants grow and watching how it’s benefiting our school,” Jordan said.

Aquaculture is important because it can help increase food production while keeping waterways clean.

“One goes through the bamboo structure where the plants are, and part of it goes back and down the waterfall is. As it goes through the bamboo structure, its water passes through the roots of the plants. Plants don’t need soil; they just need nutrients and water,” Nancy Gay said.

This new project was all made possible by a $1,000 grant that they received to add to their curriculum.

They hope to continue this process so that kids get a chance to create something of their own.