2018 - Aquaponics @ Northern Michigan University
Aquaponics @ NMU began with an outline for this week long workshop. Participants started by discussing food systems, food sovereignty, colonization, and decolonization. They chose a community to design an Aquaponics system intended to meet the food needs of that community. They researched Indigenous Knowledge keeping systems to help guide their auaponics project. They researched the food needs and traditions of the community thier aquaponics system intended to serve based on the number of inhabitants, daily calory needs, climate, and culture. They theorized answers to the questions:
- How large would the aquaponics system be?
- How would the use of aquaponics benefit the community?
- What types of fish and plants would be used in the system?
Next, they designed an aquaponics system to meet the needs of their chosen community. Participants then constructed a demonstration unit with locally purchased fish and plants. Finally, participants communicated their research in oral presentations.
The participants discussed food sovereignty, colonization, and decolonization. Food sovereignty is the right of people to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and the right of people to define their own food and agriculture systems. Colonization is the act of a foreign power imposing their way of life, their form of government, and their value system on other peoples. Decolonization is the act of reclaiming your heritage and ways of knowing about your land and its ecosystems. The process of decolonization involves learning about the ways of your ancestors.
Workshop participants were broken up into small groups of 5 or 6 students. The groups conducted research on aquapnics using the Engineered Ecosystems CSDT. They chose a community, and using the internet, deterimined population size and daily calory requirments in order to appropriately size their proposed aquaponics system. They prepared a poster to communicate their research to fellow participants.
Some groups built pH probes to test the water of the demonstration system after it was completed and the fish and plants installed.
Students constructed their demonstration system using locally purchased supplies. The system required an 18 gallon plastic tote for the fish, a 10 gallon plastic tote for the growing media and plants. Water is moved from the bottom tote containing fish to the top tote with plants by means of a water pump and plastic tubing. PVC pipe, PVC glue, and hot glue was used to construct a bell siphon to drain the plant tote back to the fish tote.
Fish purchased from a local bait shop were installed in the 18 gallon tote, along with an aerator connected to an air pump. Students took care to properly de-chlorinate the water and adjust the fish to the temperature of the water in the tote.
A bell siphon drain was installed through a hole drilled in the 10 gallon tote and secured with hot glue. The tote was then filled with clay growing media around the siphon and plants were installed taking care to make sure the plant roots would be submerged once the top tote was filled with water pumped from the fish tote and before the bell siphon engaged to drain the water back to the fish.
Students communicated their community research and aquaponics system designs in presentations to fellow participants and camp mentors.