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Valley High School Installs Aquaculture System

February 27, 2019

Valley High School recently installed an aquaculture system as part of the learning experience for students. In years past, instructor Aaron Allen and his students have grown trout in the classroom, raising them from eggs to fingerlings, and then releasing the trout into West Virginia watersheds. However, Allen found some of the students were losing interest in this endeavor; therefore, he aspired to get his students involved in something new. Allen noted many of the students at VHS enjoy fishing, so an aquaculture system seemed like a project worthy of exploration.

The system involves three different hydroponic systems operated in a greenhouse behind the school, four systems when considering the fishtank where six minnows are kept.

The hydroponic systems are known as an Ebb and Flow, Deep Water Culture, Drip System and NFT.

Article Photos

Photos by Telina Frye
Pictured are the sophisticated systems Valley High School’s Mr. Aaron Allen and his students have put into place, in order to grow plants and also sell bait.

The above-mentioned tank will be an actual fish farm. Water from this tank goes into the smaller systems and feeds the plants sown by the kids. The water is then recycled back into the tank, starting the the cycle over again. Allen explained this system allows the growth of fish and plants in a zero-waste environment.

The waste from the fish feeds the plants; the plants clean the water, and the water goes back to the fish.

The students will catch and sell bait. Allen and his students have a license to catch the bait, along with several baiting traps. The students will retrieve the bait, place it into the tank, and then sell it from here. Allen said the students will be able to buy the bait at a reduced price. He explained students are more than ready to set the traps for the bait, but he is hesitant, because he does not want high water to destroy the traps.

Allen said his students were concerned during the recent strike when school was not in session, because they were unable to care for the plants. He said he assured the students that the system is a stable one.

Notably, some of the plants have been, or will be, planted in a system which prefers gutter gardening, a gardening system using gutters to grow smaller root plants. Plants include lettuce, spinach, and strawberries. Allen and his students are also growing three different types of cucumbers and three different types of tomatoes, along with hot peppers - a request from the kids. Everything in the greehouse has been started from seed. The plants with the smaller roots - such as the lettuce and strawberries - are planted in a rotation every couple weeks.

Valley High School is unique in offering such a program for its students. One of the reasons is that many of the schools don't have the space. Fortunately VHS had an extra greenhouse to use for the system, as well as a knowledgeable teacher and support from the school.



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