Lehigh Valley

Aquaponics the farm of the future?

Aquaponics at Lehigh

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Some students at Lehigh University in Bethlehem said the production system known as aquaponics is a sustainable way to raise food and fish, and they're hoping the community catches on.

It's called the food cube, one of the many projects being developed at Lehigh University's mountaintop experience sustainable development program.

Aquaponics is the ability to raise fish and grow food at the same time, but how does it work?

"Starting over here we have our 1,000 liter fish tank with 10 tilapia that are happy and healthy," said Lehigh student Alexander Derish.

"All of the solids that the fish produce are filtered out leaving behind just their liquid waste, which is ammonia," said Lehigh student Emily Poche.

"The liquid waste goes on into our grill beds and here is where we are going to have lettuce right here and then in the second bed a bunch of herbs," said Lehigh student Kimberly Hetrick.

"Your plants have natural mechanisms to convert and purify all of the water and then dump it back into the system," said Lehigh student Jeff Schwartz.

Food Cube farming uses 90 percent less water than the traditional method and is made of almost entirely recycled material.

The students said at a preliminary cost of about $500, they're hoping locals who want to live sustainable lifestyles will want to buy one for their basements or back yards.

But long term, they hope it will make farming easier, more affordable and, of course, sustainable.

"We have all of these food deserts and people who are malnourished in the community and we want to give back. And we think we can do that with aquaponics," said Schwartz.

For more information on the students work or how you can get a Food Cube, you can check out their blog at sdevaquaponics.tumblr.com.

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