The New Frontier: Fish Food - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

The New Frontier: Fish Food

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In this month’s installment of “The New Frontier” we meet Doctor Diane Lund, at the University of Providence, formerly the University of Great Falls, and hear about a system called “aquaponics.” And this system could change the way we grow some of our most basic food staples thanks to a few fish. 

Let's start from the beginning, though...

For Dr. Lund, the discussion about climate change is more about sustainability than anything else. And at the University of Providence campus, it's all starting with… fish poop.

Dr. Lund has been working with a variety of plants and fish for the past three years.

Here's how here the aquaponics system works: the tilapia excrete waste into 350 gallon tanks, which gets filtered and pumped back out into the growing beds, where Dr. Lund and her students grow tomatoes, swiss chard, and even avocados.

The process is now being mimic-ed by NASA on Mars, and is hailed by others in the community as a solution to dealing with climate change.

And Dr. Lund agrees.

"Absolutely. The idea with aquaponics is the self sustainability, and the appreciation of that process of, you know, you just don't go to the grocery store and buy your fish, right? Where does the fish come from, what does it take to raise the fish, what do the fish eat? How does taking that particular organism out of its space effect all the other organisms that are there?” says Lund.

For her, it's not about saving the world… It's about teaching one student at a time.

"And this is something that realistically people can set up at their own home?” I asked during our tour of her greenhouse. Lund responded, pointing at her miniature aquaponic systems, “Absolutely people can set it up at their own home… these are small ten gallon tanks and they're gold fish that are used. I have one at my home that I use gold fish and I grow herbs."

And when digging deeper into the issue of climate change, Lund simplifies things into an hour and half drive.

“Every time I drive down to Helena from Great Falls, it's a spiritual drive for me…[and] if we think we're here and everything else is there, we're in trouble."

Dr. Lund's aquaponics system is actively used and developed by her students. She says sustainability is now being included into core curriculum at the University moving forward.

For more information about Dr. Lund’s work at UP and the University’s biology department, visit their website.

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