From Glasgow

UC at the 2050 Summit

We recently had the pleasure of taking part in the 2050 Summit. The 2050 Climate Group works with young professionals to ensure a sustainable future beyond 2050, and there was lots of interest in aquaponics and William, our star goldfish of the day!

Check out some of the great work the 2050 Climate Group is doing here.

Something Fishy at Glasgow Science Centre

This summer Glasgow Science Centre was host to one of our aquaponics systems. For two and a half months, visitors had the opportunity to see aquaponics in action in the second floor lab, and staff got to spoil the fish!

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At the end of the residency, we held a workshop for families to introduce them to the concepts of aquaponics and get some ideas about how we should grow food in the future from our budding scientists and agrarians!

Eco Day Planting Workshop

We were recently invited to facilitate planting workshops with local Primary 5 and Primary 6 classes to fit in with their Eco Day.

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After a bit of a lesson from Charles about what a seed actually is and why it is that way, we launched into an investigation of Seed Identification!

Seeds can be deceptive, but all teams passed with flying colours. The game fuelled some interesting discussion around seed characteristics and how differences in seeds lead to different characteristics once they grow into plants.

Then we moved on to the planting! Students could choose between cress, spinach, or mixed greens and were taken through the planting, care, and maintenance of their plants.

We’re pleased to report that, much to the excitement of the students involved, seeds began sprouting the next week! Each student was able to take home their planted pots to share with their family along with recipe ideas to cook up their healthy treats once the time comes. We also planted several classroom systems so the students could continue to stretch their green thumbs during the school day.

Aquaponics at Oakgrove

A couple of weeks ago we installed our first classroom system in Oakgrove Primary – and a great day was had by all! We’ve been developing our lesson plans over the past year, and have come up with a collection of engaging and fun lessons that range from examining the system’s bacteria under microscopes to putting on a play that allows the students to explore the delicate relationships that are essential for the aquaponics ecosystem to thrive. All of the lessons link directly into the Curriculum for Excellence, providing teachers with a dynamic classroom tool.

guide and ystem

We also spent the summer designing a classroom-friendly aquaponics system that features an easy to use and maintain flood/drain system. This particular tank was stocked with 2 goldfish and a selection of edible plants including lettuce, chives, nasturtium, mint, and a pineapple sage plant – looks like sage, smells like pineapple, great in salads!

system 2                   top view

We spent the morning discussing where and how food can be grown, the aquaponics cycle, and how to care for the aquaponics system. The students also put on a play comparing the journeys of a locally grown organic apple and an imported commercially grown one – a highlight of the day for several students!

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The class will now look after the aquaponics system, including its two resident goldfish. We’ll check back in with the school periodically to see how they’re getting on, but based on the enthusiasm of the students we reckon the system is in good hands!

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future food

PechaKucha Video

Architecture and Design Scotland kindly put up a recording of all of the talks at the recent PechaKucha along with the corresponding slides. I spoke about aquaponics and the exciting implications for how food is grown, why cities are actually great places for growing food, and how people can get involved even if they have no outdoor space to grow food. You can check out what Urban Catch said here:

PechaKucha Pretty Vacant – Urban Catch

Urban Catch on the Beeb!

The BBC came down to the Beyond the Finish Line space recently to catch up on what we’ve been up to! You can read the article here.

We’re in the thick of the Commonwealth Games here in Glasgow at the moment, so there are a lot of great opportunities to get out and about and spread the find word of aquaponics to folk. Last weekend we participated in the Local Food Market in the Briggait, which featured some great local and community food initiatives from around Glasgow. It was a brilliant opportunity to talk to people about what we’re doing and to show off our new aquaponics bike! The bike was born of a slightly misguided brainstorm  had about how to build a portable, engaging aquaponics system, and a very talented bike man. It allows us to bring aquaponics to schools and community groups around Glasgow so show what it’s all about. The pump is solar powered and in its next phase will hopefully also feature pedal power. 

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We don’t want to stress the fish out too much, so they’re currently back in our home tank resting up, but if you’re about Glasgow you may bump into us someday soon!

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Eco Day!

We recently went out to a primary school just outside of Glasgow to talk about local growing and urban food with the Primary 6s. What a blast! We had a great time, and it looks like the students did too. We did a lot of group-based discussions around how and where food is grown, and covered topics from allotments to rooftop gardens to indoor growing (and of course aquaponics!)

We had a special presentation from the P7s that brought us through the two very different lifecycles of a standard store-bought tomato and a locally-grown organic tomato:

And everyone got to see (and smell!) first-hand some of the differences between them. Imagine the taste difference!

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We were really impressed by the amount of knowledge the P6s already had about different ways to grow food: a lot of students had family members who grow food in their gardens, and some members of the Eco-committee expressed their interest in starting a school garden. We wanted all the students to take what they had learned home, so we did a self-watering planter out of upcycled plastic bottles (instructions can be found here).

bottle work smiley bottle

We were able to source some fantastic locally-grown chives from Urban Roots, and everyone got to plant and bring their own chives home, along with care instructions and a recipe card. We’ll be expecting lots of chive-topped baked potatoes in the coming months!

A great day was had by all, and we’re already looking forward to returning in the Autumn to install a classroom-based aquaponics system!

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