US (VA): Students' farming feeds Fairfax County School

Eighth-grader Dahlia Kassim is used to being surrounded by fish and having a pond with hundreds in her backyard. But she and other Luther Jackson Middle School classmates found out fish can contribute to something they didn't expect: farming.
A group of eighth-grade students at Fairfax County's Luther Jackson Middle School created a project that grows produce through vertical farming. That produce supplies the middle school's food pantry, which serves around 70 families.

Produce is grown on vertical plastic towers via a process called hydroponics. Mark Smith, an engineering teacher and director of Luther Jackson Middle School's ESTEEM Center, told Patch aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics (growing plants without soil) and aquaculture (growing fish and other aquatic organisms).
That means the waste produced from fish fertilizes the plants. The plants, in turn, clean the water that goes back to the fish, he said.

Smith may know all the logistics, but he credits students with creating the idea and putting all the work into it.


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