N.C. State students display unique way of growing food: aquaponics

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina State Students are drawing attention to a unique way of growing food that they’re putting on display on campus.

It’s a bit of an unusual sight inside N.C. State’s Tally Student Union: lettuce growing and fish swimming.

It’s called aquaponics and the display was created by the Recirculating Farms Club to educate people about the process of fish farming and growing plants in water.

Student Maddie Ciszewski explained, “The fish waste provides nutrients for the plants and then the plants, by absorbing those nutrients, are essentially cleaning the water so it can go back to the fish tank.”

“It provides an alternative form of agriculture that is more efficient and more environmentally friendly,” she continued.

The system was put in place this summer. Every 28 days a new crop of lettuce can be harvested with half of the harvest going to a food bank, and the other half staying at N.C. State.

“Talk about local — it’s coming from here and going upstairs into our restaurant,” said NC State professor, Lisa Paciulli.

Chris Dunham is the nutrition and sustainability specialist for NC State’s university dining, he says he’s working to bring more local ingredients to students.

“We want to make an even bigger impact on the local food system,” he said, adding, “We serve over 30,000 meals a day on campus.”

He and the students believe aquaponic systems will become increasingly popular.

“As far as saving water and space usage, it’s a lot more efficient,” said Ciszewski.

The club recently received a grant to allow students to conduct research projects and collect data on the system.

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