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US (OR): West Salem aquaponics program up and running

More than a dozen West Salem High School Students crowded around an innocuous cardboard box outside the school greenhouse last Wednesday afternoon in quiet anticipation.

Inside the box, 100 pinky-length Tilapia swam in slow circles. West Salem’s first aquaponic gardening class could finally get out of the classroom and get some hands-on experience.

West Salem is the first school district in the county to offer an aquaponics course that uses fish to produce fertilizer for hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables. The school, however, isn’t the first district to put hydroponically grown veggies on student’s plates, which Bangor and Holmen been doing for years. West Salem is the first to introduce fish to the equation.

For Agriculture Teacher Kelly Reuckheim, the arrival of the fish signaled the official start of a program that had been under development for more than a year.

“It will take four to six weeks for the bacteria to build up and start producing nitrates,” Reuckheim said. “We will probably be planting right before or after Christmas.”

Read more at the Coulee Courier (Tobias Mann)

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