May 13, 2019
Kale, oregano and basil are just some of the edible plants growing inside UNE’s aquaponics lab located on the ground floor of the Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center (MSC).
Aquaponics is a way to grow fish and plants at the same time indoors. The fish waste feeds the plants like a fertilizer, and the plants clean the water for the fish in return.
"Aquaponics is a way to produce a lot of food in a small footprint virtually anywhere," Zach Miller-Hope, M.S., assistant director for education at UNE North, told WGME during an interview that recently aired in a news report.
The MSC houses a 600-gallon tank filled with rainbow trout. It is surrounded by about 1,000 different plants.
Students in the Aquaponics Club manage the lab by feeding the fish, tending to the plants and monitoring water quality.
Aubrey Jane (Marine Biology and Medical Biology, ’21) is the president of the club.
"It’s exciting to be involved in the entire process, watching the plants grow from seedlings all the way until you eat them," she commented to WGME.
"One of my favorite things about this system and working with this system is that it connects the students to food,” Miller-Hope said. “They're seeing food growing, and it's a direct result of their efforts."
When the edible plants are mature enough a team of student Eco-Reps from the UNE Sustainability Office moves them to the Living Wall in the Ripich Commons. The plants are eventually harvested from the wall and sold during the Edible Campus Market. Proceeds go to the Aquaponics Club to help support the next round of plantings.