US (ME): Local business aids local school’s aquaponic farm

Grow-Tech’s product line of growing media is sold all over the world, but it’s also being put to use much closer to home. Portland Arts and Technology High School’s (PATHS) Landscape & Garden Program, led by instructor Kathy Tarpo, set up an aquaponic system in September and is using Grow-Tech’s FlexiPlugs to grow herbs, salad greens, and geranium cuttings.

The twenty-eight students involved in the class have been harvesting greens for their school lunch program since October. Almost two dozen tilapia are steadily growing in their tank and will be utilized by the students in the culinary program. Says Tarpo, “I felt that we should be growing food since we are so fortunate to have a heated greenhouse, and aquaponics is a way to grow food while the students are here (during the school year). It is a small farm to table experience for our students!” Grow-Tech, however, isn’t the only company that helped make this aquaponic system a reality.

Its existence is due to the resourcefulness of Tarpo and the power of networking. The program received a $2,700 grant from Maine Ag in the Classroom this summer. At that point, Tarpo reached out to Mike Carlsen, an employee at Olivia’s Garden in New Gloucester, ME. Olivia’s has been growing hydroponic herbs, tomatoes, and salad greens for over 10 years and recently embarked on an aquaponics operation. Carlsen volunteered his time to set up the tank and system at PATHS.

Tarpo knew of another local aquaponics operation, Fluid Farms, run by Jackson McLeod and Tyler Gaudette, where she was able to purchase tilapia to add to the system’s existing goldfish. Olivia’s Garden and Fluid Farms have an existing relationship with Grow-Tech so the PATHS teacher called us with a request for supplies. As a result of Tarpo’s efforts and the generosity of local businesses, she was able to source expertise, labor, supplies and an Advisory Board member all within a 10 mile radius of her school!

Grow-Tech is proud to support the PATHS Landscape & Garden Program’s on-going efforts to build students’ skills in a very valuable industry.

For more information
Grow-Tech, LLC
T: +1 888-805-8916

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