Technical college and church install aquaponic system in Costa Rica

A partnership between Western Dakota Technical College and Rimrock Church is establishing food, hope and friendship in an impoverished community in Costa Rica.

In July and August, four WDT faculty members and two WDT students – plus Rimrock Church’s youth pastor, Josh Hodgson, and a team of nine fathers and sons from the church – worked in the Cartago region of Costa Rica to install an aquaponics system. Aquaponics creates its own ecosystem in which food can be grown more quickly and consistently.

“It’s a sustainable agriculture system process where we use fish (waste) for food to fertilize plants. It’s a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture,” said Bryan Mitchell, program director for WDT’s electrical trades program and co-director of the controlled environment agriculture program. “(In Costa Rica) we set up a series of pipes and tanks to harvest recycled aquaculture water and turn it into plant food.”

“Part of the reason you do aquaponics is the timeline for growing is compressed. If you grow lettuce in the dirt (for example), it would take three times as long,” said Jeremy Johnson, electrical trades instructor at WDT.

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