Students in the culinary program at Jasper Place High School in Edmonton, Canada (yes, Canada apparently has culinary programs in high school) probably think farm-to-table restaurants are a pretty cute idea. Oh, you have a farm on your roof? You must be so proud. We have a farm ON OUR ACTUAL TABLE.
The students are raising 100 tilapia, which they’ll cook for college credit in the spring. Not only that, but one of the tilapia tanks hosts a hydroponic herb and vegetable farm on top, fed with fish-waste-fertilized water. Not only that, but the plants do double duty as filters, cleaning the water that gets put back into the tank — and the fish eat leftover vegetables and cuttings. NOT ONLY THAT, but oh yeah the school does have a rooftop garden too. Basically, the only way a high school could be more sustainable is if they ran the AC off lust-sweat and teenage angst.
Oh wait, I guess there’s one other way they could get more sustainable. The students have been inspired to find a way to make their fish-rearing system run on renewable energy:
And there could be more related projects on the way. [Teacher Dustin] Bajer says students are thinking big — Moby Dick big.
Some have talked about putting bicycle-powered generators in the school’s cafe to charge their cellphones and laptops. So why not produce energy to make their food?
“There’s a fitness centre here. There are spin classes. How many generators could we get going? Could we basically produce enough electricity to at least offset the costs of the lights for the aquaponics system?” asks Bajer.
“Then it’s off the grid.”
The fish don’t just provide plant food, protein, cooking credit, and a crash course in where food comes from — they’re also being used as the basis for lessons outside of the culinary program. Chemistry students are researching the ecosystem, and biology students are trying to get the fish to breed. (Actually, the article doesn’t say they’re biology students — it could just be that kids think it’s funny to try to make fish bone.)
The only potential wrench in the works is a one-eyed tilapia named Winky. The students aren’t sure they’ll be able to eat that one.