Sanger High students using unique techniques to grow food

SANGER, Calif. (KFSN) -- Aquaponics is the process of combining aquaculture and hydroponics to grow produce. Kids at Sanger High School are getting hands-on experience in the process and growing food in a very unique way.

This is not a fish tale about the big one that got away. Instead, this is the tale of smaller ones which offer food for thought to young minds at Sanger High School. "It's a good way to trick kids to learn about plants because plants aren't always the most exciting thing for a teenager to learn about," said Audrey Bonomi, agriculture teacher.

The students love their aquaponics systems because they created them to grow leafy vegetables like lettuce. Some of the produce juts out of tower systems. "I really enjoyed building it because it was different than what they usually do in the classes. Like usually they sit there and lecture us about what it's supposed to and this is kind of showing exactly how it works," said Stephanie Herring, Sanger High sophomore.

But first, they must care for the fish in the tanks. The fish produce nutrients to help the plants grow. Water is then pumped up to the plants roots so the crops can grow. Every step of the way the kids learn important lessons about keeping fish and plants alive. "It feels pretty good to know when you know you're allowed to grow something just by something you created," said Allyson Highfill, Sanger High sophomore.

All of the fish were supplied by J & J Aquafarms in Sanger. Owner John Young helped Sanger, Cart and Caruthers High Schools set up aquaponics systems. He enjoys educating kids about fish and biology. "The fish is the engine that drives the aquaponics system. They provide the food for the plants and then the plants and the bacteria in the system clean the water to keep the fish happy."

The kids take pride in knowing their reusable water systems address drought issues which have plagued the state for four years. "We grew lettuce last year and it was really cool to see that it could make a difference in agriculture," said Herring.

And perhaps a difference in their future. "...and know that I could possibly have a job right out of high school so it's pretty cool," said Highfill.

These kids are putting down roots in more ways than one.
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