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Riverbend Brings Aquaponics to Colonial

Did you know that by raising fish in a tank, you can have everything you need to nurture a garden? Aquaponics, which combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in a tank) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water), has come to Colonial through a partnership with Riverbend Environmental Education Center in Gladwyne.

Mike Barcus, Riverbend's Aquaponics Greenhouse Manager, recently visited Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) to set up tanks in Carlee Moir and Stephanie Warga's classrooms.

"I enjoy coming into the Colonial School District, because of the great interest in aquaponics from the students and teachers," said Mr. Barcus.

In aquaponics, the water from the tank is pumped through the system where helpful bacteria breaks down the waste from the fish into nitrates that feed the plants. The filtered water then goes back into the tank.

"Through aquaponics, we can learn new techniques for farming to better our environment and our world," said PWHS Senior Robbie Gutman.

"I think it's important to learn about where your food's coming from, where it's made and all the components that go into that," added Junior Becca Richards.

Students from one of the school's science clubs will take care of feeding the fish, testing the water, monitoring how much light the plants get and cleaning the tank.

Riverbend will be back to build a larger custom aquaponics system in the light court at Colonial Middle School.