US (CT): Thompson snags $81K USDA aquaponics grant

This fall, Thompson and Putnam students will have an opportunity to bring their learning to life.

An $81,000 USDA Farm to School grant was awarded to the Thompson and Putnam school systems for the design and construction of aquaponic systems at the two town high schools.

Aquaponics combines the growing of fish with the growing of greens and vegetables. The simplified explanation goes something like this: fish waste is turned into bacteria which is converted into fertilizer for the plants. The water is recirculated and returned clean and safe to the fish tank.

Plants grow like crazy year-round and without any need for pesticides or chemicals. There is less water and less space needed than in traditional farming. And there is less crop loss with aquaponic systems.

Thompson Superintendent Melinda Smith learned of the grants through the USDA newsletter, The Dirt. Sources at the University of Connecticut suggested she contact Meriden’s Trifecta Ecosystems for help with the grant.

Formed in 2012, Trifecta’s mission is to build local, sustainable, community driven aquaponic ecosystems. A commercial garden and CSA was followed by a partnership with Arc of Meriden and the Capitol Region Education Council. The mission has always been to spread the message of responsible stewardship to everyone in the community. Schools were a natural fit. To date, more than 1,300 students have learned about aquaponic systems through Trifecta.

The company’s co-founder and CEO Spencer Curry and grant writer Alexandra Berrio partnered with Smith to make sure the grant application passed muster on the federal level.

Read the full article at Hartford Courant (Denise Coffey)

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