In its quest to minimize waste, the vertical farm housed in a shed behind Merrifield’s Luther Jackson Middle School will one day be sustained by fish feces.

Barely the length of a fingernail, the larval tilapia swimming around a small tank in the shed will soon grow large enough to be transferred into a bigger bucket with a filter that separates fish poop and other solids from water.

“The water goes back in the tank, of course, and then, the solids will go down through the filter system, and they will separate from the water and…be turned into sludge we use as fertilizer,” explained Vivian Nguyen, an eighth-grade student at Luther Jackson.

Thanks to Vivian and about 14 other students across four engineering classes, the farm is now operating and producing 50 bags of lettuce or spinach a month, all destined for the school’s food pantry. It took two years of research, experimentation, and waiting for equipment and permit approvals to get the farm to this stage — long enough that the eighth-grader who first conceived of the project has moved on to high school. 

Read more at tysonsreporter.com