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US (WI): Students use aquaponics to grow food for school

When Augusto Freitas heard what they were cooking in his family consumer science class at Deforest High School on Tuesday he quickly told his teacher how excited he was.

“I was hyped because today we are preparing tilapia, and that is a main fish dish in Brazil, I used to eat every week, I feel nostalgic about it,” Freitas said.

The 11th grader moved from Brazil earlier this year. Tilapia is common there, in Wisconsin it isn't. The fish wasn't exactly caught near the school, but instead raised in it.

The tilapia were part of the agriculture student's aquaponics project. They raised the fish in a tank with floating lettuce plants on the water. As the fish ate and grew their waste fed the lettuce and the lettuce then filtered the water for the fish.

“You're using the waste you don't have to use synthetic fertilizer to increase the nitrogen for the plants, as well as you don't need to do as much water changing if it was just fish, it's a closed cycle,” said Gwen Boettcher, one of Deforest High Schools' Agriculture teachers.

A lot of her students had never heard of aquaponics before taking the class.

“The first response is usually that's really gross, but I have to remind students that your food is grown from lots of manure and fertilizer and things soil naturally has,” Boettcher said.

Read more at Spectrum News 1 (Jeff Dahdah)

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