Sustainable gardening practices must be the future of farming and food production. As farming resources such as rich soil are depleted, scientists have been researching new methods of growing fruits and vegetables. For example, aquaponics takes advantage of the nitrogen cycle by using fish excrement to grow plants without soil. Instead the root structure is supported in gravel. The fish supply 10 essential minerals to the plants and in turn the plants clean the water so that the fish can live in a healthy environment. At OIS we have been running an ebb and flow system since last spring. Every two hours water is pumped up from the fish tank into the grow beds and returned to the fish tank via a bell siphon. A bell siphon creates a vacuum where the water is sucked out of the grow bed thus pulling air from the surface to the roots. This heavily oxygenated environment supplies nutrients right to the plants yielding faster growth and using just 5% of the water of traditional farming methods.
OIS has been running an aquaponics system on the second floor balcony since last spring. It is home to over a dozen fish and several vegetables including peppers, celery, lettuce and many others. Please visit this living science experiment to peek into the future of farming. Encourage your children to become involved with maintaining and expanding our aquaponics system by joining the Aquaponics Club, see Mr. Van Plantinga Room 344.