More than three‑quarters of students from low‑income households
$0 still needed
AquaponicsGarden: Closing The Loop On Poverty & Food Production
My students need seeds, 12 gal. of clay pebbles for plants to grow in & 12 gal. of black lava rock to provide surface area for beneficial bacteria & red worm populations (per system.)
There is no doubt whether or not education level, race, and income affect an individual's health and quality of life. Attaining a higher level of education can increase one's chances of making good decisions and avoiding deadly but silent diseases brought on by poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Our students attend a STEM academy in Texas (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math).
STEM embraces interdisciplinary, project-based learning and hands-on investigations. The area our students live in is said to be surrounded by 6 food deserts. A food desert is defined as "an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food." Enough of our students probably don't consume enough quality nutrition because processed and fast food are more convenient to access.
Our student population is comprised of 77% Hispanic and 12% African Americans. 58% are classified as "at-risk" and 70% as economically disadvantaged.
Studies have shown that Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely to live in poverty and, as a result, they are also at a significantly higher risk for hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, and lung disease. All of these conditions can be linked to an unhealthy lifestyle: smoking, lack of quality food, exercise, and health care access.
Edible fish like tilapia or channel catfish produce waste that fills and drains grow beds, automatically delivering nutrient-rich water to plants every 10-15 minutes. The plants filter the waste, cleaning the fish tank water. In this closed loop, we can teach students & communities a sustainable, low footprint, & zero-waste technology capable of producing quality food that is otherwise unavailable for those without easy access to a car. Literally, Aquaponics closes the loop (or nitrogen cycle). No excess nitrogen (from chemical fertilizers most agricultural companies use) spills into our ecosystem. No need for them in this growing machine! No excess ammonia fish waste that commercial fish farms release into our environment. No pesticides either. Our plants will be healthy with strong immune systems. When necessary we will resort to a soap-based spray. Did I mention Aquaponics uses only 10% of the water conventional farming uses? Forget food desert! Can you get this at a grocery chain?
Aquaponics can close the loop on a different, more vicious cycle than the nitrogen one: poverty to lack of education to early death.
I have a dream and it's one where my students don't resort to crime or a low-wage job they hate because they are bored or were never inspired to or convinced they can change the world. Instead, in this dream, they & their families are healthy and, at school, my students Skype even poorer peers across the world in arid and sandy climates, teaching them Aquaponics.
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