The Greenhouse and Gardens
The Micro-Farm greenhouse and raised- bed gardens are busy places year-round! Since 2003, AGCS students have been gardening on our campus. We've developed an ideal space for students to actively experiment with hands-on, sustainable agriculture. They experience a deep sense of accomplishment in nurturing small seeds to harvest.
Our gardening has evolved into impressive crop production! AGCS Micro-Farm produce and eggs are donated to the Chester County Food Bank, used in the AGCS Cafeteria, and (if there is a surplus) sold to staff and local restaurants to help support the farm. We maintain a working aquaponics system in our greenhouse, which simultaneously raises fish, vegetables, and plants on a year-round basis.
Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, snails, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrification bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all aquaponics systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an aquaponics system can vary as much as any system found in either distinct farming discipline.
At the AGCS Micro-Farm, we've grown a variety of lettuces, herbs, and house plants simultaneously with bluegill, goldfish, and tilapia in our aquaponic system.