8 November, 2020
Something fishy at Gilgandra High School
Gilgandra High School students now have the chance to learn the ins-and-outs of an aquaponics set up, rearing fish and yabbies and growing their own produce.
With the help of the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS), Gilgandra High School (GHS) students now have the chance to try their hands at aquaponics.
As part of the RFDS mental health ‘Grow Program’, the school was given a full aquaponic setup valued at around $80,000. GHS teacher Diane Irvin said that the school is one of many across the state to benefit from the program.
“They’ve got a very complex system going in which they’re engaging with children and it’s going right across the western part of NSW,” she said.
The setup includes a large fish tank as well as spots to raise yabbies. Water is cycled through the whole system, so that it becomes fertilised by the fish and yabby waste. The water is then pumped out into grow beds.
One of the student’s already involved in the project, Blake Duff, said that students will have a number of responsibilities in caring for the aquatic life and plants.
“We’re meant to be getting fish next year which will be silver perch to start off with and we’ll mostly grow leafy greens. We have to test the PH and the ammonium of the water every day, feed the fish and yabbies and ensure everything is functioning properly. I’m pretty happy that we got this and I’m excited to use it,” said Blake.
Acting principal Erica Burge said that this is an opportunity for students to learn skills that the school wouldn’t otherwise be able to provide.
“It’s an opportunity to try something different and invest in responsibility and understanding of how aquaponics works,” said Ms Burge.
“The response to the aquaponics program has been positive so far, but there’s still lots of learning to do to ensure they use it correctly,” she said.
“All the staff that are informed about it are positive and have been interested in knowing more about the project.
“There is still a lot of professional learning to go and both staff and students will have the opportunity to engage with the program.
“Blake is going to be given a few chances to make mistakes and tinker around with the system. He’ll be telling us what to do with it all by the time we get the fish in there.”