GROWING TOGETHER AQUAPONICS
The mission of the Growing Together Aquaponics Program is to use the science and technology of an aquaponics system to provide pre-employment transition services to students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and students without disabilities in a unique partnership between Slippery Rock University and the North Country Brewing Company. The program aims to ensure all individuals, regardless of abilities, are given the opportunity to participate in an employment readiness program that promotes lifelong sustainable physical activity and nutrition.
Funded by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation and supported by DREAM Partnerships, Growing Together Aquaponics is located in North Country Brewing Co.’s 8,000 square foot production facility in Slippery Rock, PA. It features a 600-square foot, closed loop system that includes a 230-gallon fish tank; two plant beds, and a four-tier vertical set of grow racks. Fish waste provided by Tilapia is pumped through the system to provide organic food for plants located in the grow beds.
Students in the Rock Life and and Transitional Achievement Program at SRU work on the aquaponics system several days a week, introducing them to concepts related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and empowering them to lead productive lives. Students plant seeds, feed the fish, clean the clarifying tank, test the water for nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, and PH, and harvest the vegetables to be taken to North Country Brewpub and The Harmony Inn to be incorporated into menu items.