Thanks very much for facilitating MCOPP’s tour of Sweetwater yesterday. We really enjoyed learning from Nick, who was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and an all-around great storyteller! I’m wishing Sweet water great success with the newer greenhouse aquaponic system.
Just wanted to let you know that we really appreciated the tour.
Milwaukee Childhood Obesity Prevention Project
United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee | 710 N. Plankinton Ave. Suite 740 | Milwaukee, WI 53203
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.uncom-milw.org/mcopp
414–978–2023 (office) | 414–698–9141 (cell) | 414–224–7750 (fax)
Keep up the Good “fight” brother! Whenever folks ask me about the mess the papers keep printing about SW I always let them know that the papers really have no idea what they are talking about and I tell them the wonderful things going on through the educational outreach to city kids, etc, etc, etc.
Thank You Much for your dedication and vision!
Sue (I was part of the MTEC/Sweetwater/FDA grant with Jesse and Jill)
A Veteran Named Blaze
Blaze: “I was having one of those days where I didn’t want to get up, nothing was going right in the morning, but now I got to this part, it is very satisfying, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Me: “What is it about what you’ve done here today that made you feel better?”
Blaze: “Well, I’m starting to learn more about the chemistry of the thing. It’s starting to look more like Barrel-Ponics.”
Me: “That makes you feel good?”
Blaze: “It makes me feel really good. And the camaraderie of the team, also. I’m connected to everything.”
Julia Laidlaw of UN Global Compact Cities Programme
UN Global Compact Cities Programme
I’m definitely inspired, excited and so curious about all the work at sweet water but the other day I recognized something else.
The lovely parallel between the symbiotic, nourishing relationship between plants and fish in an aquaponics system and the relationship between Sweet Water’s Aquaponics and education. It’s like this…Just as the plants feed and grow and become strong from all the goodness the fish have left for them the curriculum in schools and the whole learning experience is enhanced and inspired and improved and nourished through work with aquaponics. And just as just as the fish stay healthy and grow from the fresh filtered water from the plants aquaponics continues to grow from the refreshing contribution the schools make to wards it development through their contribution towards creating better systems, research and the training of expert aquaponisists for the future.
Professional Learning Institute
I am a fourth year teacher at the Professional Learning Institute in Milwaukee. This past semester, I had a student, Robert Banks, who had an interest in aquaponics and aquaponic technology. Having toured and thoroughly enjoyed Sweetwater, Robert asked one of your workers, Jesse Blom, if he would help him complete his goal of constructing his own aquaponics system. Jesse not only assisted Robert with information and help finding supplies, he also allowed Robert to volunteer and set up an internship that allowed Robert to work at Sweetwater throughout the week. Robert was thrilled and enjoyed the experience, as well as the knowledge and information given to him by Jesse and his co-workers. Thanks to the help of Jesse and Sweetwater, Robert successfully completed construction of our school’s first aquaponics system.
However, this experience impacted Robert far beyond his aquaponics system. A student who has struggled with high school, Robert had by far his best semester of high school to date. The D’s and U’s he was earning were replaced by A’s and B’s. He is a far more focused student and I have every reason to believe Jesse and the entire group at Sweetwater played a major role in that turn around. So, I’m writing to say thank you Sweetwater. Thank you for your help with Robert. Thank you for being a socially conscious organization, and most importantly, thank you for remembering the community that you work in. Organizations like Sweetwater benefit the community around them and we are fortunate to have them in Milwaukee. If there is anything I can do to help you in the future, please don’t hesitate to call.
Since my trip to India I have begun my degree at the Wisconsin School of Business, I have found many connections back to my experience in India. Through the gateway
of aquaponics, I gained my first exposure to targeting the base of the pyramid. I have found my passion in studying what entrepreneurial activities can empower people in developing countries. There is a lot to be learned from experiencing life across the world. This is where we will find the most sustainable innovations. Aquaponics is an excellent example of how we can bring a modern system to a developing country and allow for their different perspective to create alternative solutions. I don’t know what it’s like to not have clean water everyday, I can think and dream about ideas to converse water, but I have no reason to act. My friends in India are the people faced with a diminishing and contaminated water supply; indeed they are the people who
can teach me how to act.
Now, having the ability to step back and study my reflective notes from the very first week of training at Sweet Water Organics, I can visibly see my professional growth as well as personal growth and I find myself overwhelmingly grateful.
I took this international opportunity to seek out some of my internal confidence, but this was no easy feat. As much as this experience improved my professional skills, I find the most value in my personal journey.
As much as Travel is stimulating to the senses it is also one of the rare places we can objectively view ourselves; away from our stable environment and into a seemingly new world where only your true qualities shine.
I have come to realize the importance of people in any kind of business operation.
People make the business function at all levels. Good relationships with people are
the roots of a successful business endeavor, not just with the powerful individuals, but also with the community members. Respect results in support.
Shajan once told us that passion is the number one ingredient. It wasn’t always an
easy journey, but it was a beautiful one.
James Godsil provided VertiCulture with the guidance and spirit to propel our aquaponics venture to a focused and meaningful endeavor. Godsil selflessly offered his time on a weekly basis for insightful and thought provoking discussions that shaped the way we looked at the potential of our project and the multitude of directions it could take.
With Godsil’s help, we were able to determine a clear path towards developing our first aquaponics lab in a collaborative space with like-minded innovative small businesses and individuals. Godsil’s humor and humanity leveled our minds while showing us the larger scope of things, while never forgetting that without a whole-hearted community effort, something like aquaponics production would never see its true potential.
We are indebted to Godsil for his guidance and insight as well as his wealth of experience in aquaponics production and community organizing acumen. Without his help, we would not be as well off on our way towards promoting potentially the most sustainable form of agricultural technology this world has ever seen.
We are excited and we are driven. We are honored to have worked with Godsil and look forward to what the future will bring.
Vice Principal Shorewood High
To Whom It May Concern:
Please allow this letter to Serve as a testimonial as to the tremendous impact that
Sweet Water has had on the students of the New Horizons Charter School located
at Shorewood High School. Our students began a relationship with Sweet Water
at the onset of the 2010–11 school’ year. Even though this relationship began in an
lmpromptu manner, the hard work and altruism of Sweet Water cemented this
relationship and made it valuable and tangible.
During the previous school year, New Horizons had a loose relationship with at least two other organizations in the Milwaukee area. The status of these relationships left our students with an out-ward bound experience that was both mundane and lacked meaning for some of them. We saw interest in our charter school wane a bit and some Current students were questioning their presence inthe program and possibly its value to them. This changed quickly with Sweet Water’s involvement.
During the 2010–11 school year, we retained every single student. At the same time,
92% @four eligible graduates graduated On time with their Class with two students
graduating early. This is important in that our Charter school serves students who
are at risk of graduating in general. 40% of the graduates are pursuing studies that
can be directly linked to the experiences they had at Sweet Water. The instructors of the charter school estimate that volunteering _amongst the students has increased threefold. 54% of the total charter school population graduated this past year. This is significant in that it leaves us with several seats to hl! for the upcoming school year’. Due to the exposure the program has gained Within our school as a whole due to its involvement with Sweet Water,we had the most applicants for our charter school since its inception. 75% ofour students have extended urban agriculture into their homes though the construction of raised garden beds, actual aquaponic systems,or an increase in recycling.
Anecdotally, I can share volumes of the impact of this program. Our instructors are
asked if the Class can go to Sweet Water even on the days that the schedule does not
permit. There was a student this past year that l have encouraged to go in to teaching. Considering her grades, she immediately dismissed the thought. Then Sweet Water entered the frame and gave her the opportunity to work with students from other schools who were visiting Sweet Water. That ability to lead and instruct has shifted her focus to teaching. Sweet Water grips, guides, and grows our students in reassuring growth in our students, the charter school has developed seven guiding principles that were met by 100% oi’ the students. In the past it had been difficult to measure the growth because the students were not able to access experiences that could show the growth. These principles were developed and measured in partnership with Sweet Water. They are as follows:
Building Strong Content knowledge
Responding to varying demand of audience. task purpose, and discipline
Comprehending as well as Critiquing
Using technology and digital media strategically and Capably
Understanding other perspectives
This letter may describe Sweet Water’s impact on our students and their educational
experience. Still, it Could never do it justice. Sweet Water has left our kids engaged and excited. They stand tall in knowing they are active participants in something that is cutting edge and impactful to society. I only wish you Could see their posture and facial expressions when they talk about Sweet Water. I truly appreciate and value the opportunity to speak on behalf of Sweet Water.
Addendum on Lettuce
I wanted to reiterate the story that I told you last week. My wife Erin and I bought lettuce from Sweetwater’s booth at the last Chill on the Hill. Erin put it in some tuperware contraption that she has, but forgot about it. In the meantime, she bought some bagged lettuce from pick n save. She went to make a salad with the pick n save lettuce which was less than a week old. She opened the bag and the lettuce was no good. It was slimey and smelled horribly. This experience prompted her to clean out the fridge. In doing so, she came across the Sweetwater lettuce which had to be at least a month old. She checked it and was surprised at its condition. So she had me take a look. You would have thought she just bought it. It was fresh and crispy. In fact, we made a salad that night that tasted great.
Keep up the good work!
Harold S. Vincent High
Sweet Water Organics has provided education and guidance at the beginning of our program and continues to share advice with us through our development. Harold S. Vincent High School students and staff have had the opportunity to tour the Bay View facility and have received an abundance of information to help create and maintain our aquaponics lab.
Some members of SWO have visited our school and have assisted in one of the design features of our system. We appreciate the partnership with SWO and look forward to continuing to work together into the future.
Biology/AP Biology Teacher
Science Dept. Chair
Bradley Tech High School
I often forget that many of my students have little exposure to, or experience with, growing plants/food they can use. As I have introduced the ideas behind food security and urban agriculture to my students I have seen many of them light up - and there is an awareness of what is available versus what should be available, and what they can do about it. My students are working right now to design their own systems, and instead of rushing through to say they are finished, I see a lot of thought and effort going in to creating a design - they all want to contribute to the design we will ultimately use in our classroom. I am very new to the world of aquaponics, and Jesse, Jill and Matt have been wonderful instructors/coaches. They understand how overwhelming an undertaking like this can be - and they have been there to support my learning and my confidence level as I prepare to lead my students through the creative process, and in to the production phase of our project. Word has spread, and I have students who have never had a class with me that stop by to ask when they will get to see our fish and our plants. I know this will be a great experience not only for my students, but for other students in the building and many of the adults as well.
Please let me know if there is anything else I need to do/add to this so that it is helpful for you.
Have a great day!
Andrew Huir, Administrator
La Causa School
Over the past four years, I have had the pleasure of working with James Godsil and the Sweet Water Foundation to further our school’s sustainability initiatives. This partnership has not only resulted in increased student motivation to learn, it has also led to systemic change in our school community.
Whether helping our students to discover the work of worms during our annual outdoor science fair or inviting them to broaden their perspectives on meaningful professions during our Career Fair, James Godsil honors our students’ cultural heritage. From that foundation, he encourages them to expand their thinking and apply that knowledge to real life situations.
It is because of this rich understanding of pedagogy that La Causa students continue to visit Sweet Water and experience Milwaukee-style urban farming. After meeting with the Worm Mon or turning over a compost pile, they challenge their previous conceptions of ‘waste.’ They develop a deeper understanding of the complex ecosystems that produce the food they eat. This understanding of the interconnectedness of life is a requisite to protecting our world’s finite resources.
Richard A De Palma, D.C.
Vincent High School Urban Ag Program
First let me thank you for both attending and representing Sweet Water at our breakfast last week. It is an honor to have a person of your foresight in anyway interconnected with Vincent.
We have visited SW many times and have always come away with numerous ideas. Never has there been the slightest attempt to block the use of any of your intellectual property for our own use. We will always be in your gratitude and admiration.
With respect to some examples we first observed the grow bed water flow at Growing Power and then yours. We adopted the flow you currently use where the same water flows over both beds rather than one where it wraps around, 3” or 4” PVC, on the outside between the top and lower plant beds to increase the uptake of fish excrement by the plant roots.
We have also taken students from Vincent on several occasions for aquaponics/aquaculture educational experiences as well as bringing subsidized MAWIB worker’s in Mayor Barrett’s Summer Earn & Learn Program.
We hope our interface will always be maintained and value your expertise as we all progress toward better and long lasting urban food production.
Richard A De Palma, D.C.
CEO & Founder
However, what I am readily confirm and have always said: YOU guys at SWO where my inspiration to get started with my own Aquaponic rooftop farm company in in Switzerland. We are currently launching our first pilot project. See picture of some weeks ago.
I think SWO continues to be recognized as one of the global commercial pioneers in our field. It’s the pioneers that take all the arrows. I am ok with that, and I guess you too.
Looking forward to making further progress.
The Scooter Foundation Founder
On behalf of The Scooter Foundation I want to inform the community of the
positive and generous support given to us by James Godsil and The Sweet Water
Organics Foundation. I had a dream of turning a vacant lot across the street from
Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary school into an urban garden for the students
and the community. I went to Godsil with this idea and asked for assistance with
the raised beds. Godsil was very excited and happy to help make this dream a
reality. After meeting and planning for several weeks the installation took place
on April 24, 2010. “Scooters Garden of Hope” was built in the pouring rain but
over 75 volunteers and 40 students showed up to help. Godsil and The Sweet
Water Foundation built all of our raised beds and donated all of the compost to
fill the beds. We had no experience or knowledge of how to even begin building
an urban garden the kindness, goodness, and support that was shown to us by
Godsil and The Sweet Water Foundation was overwhelming.
We have enjoyed the garden for three growing seasons and so many students
benefit from this wonderful work. These children would never have the
opportunity to learn how to grow food, herbs, flowers or berry’s if not for the gift that was given to them with the help of Gosil, community partners, volunteers
and the school. http://www.scooterfoundation.org/memories/sf04210/
Wisconsin African American Women’s Center
Godsil, I really would like to thank you for all the support that you have given us at the Wisconsin African American Women’s Center with our garden. I am a complete novice when it comes to gardening, however, with your support and the support of our staff our first garden project turned out to be a success. The plants and soil that you donated were greatly appreciated. Please keep in touch we would like some suggestions for plants for next season.
National Board Certified Teacher
Biology and AP Environmental Science Teacher
Whitney Young H.S.
I too have worked with Sweet Water, but from the Foundation side. And I believe this is a side that has been grossly overlooked. I teach at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago and four years ago some of my students had a dream, to build a greenhouse and make it sustainable. We visited Growing Powers and really liked what they were doing and thought it would be cool to emulate their system in our greenhouse. Through an article about our project in a local newspaper in Chicago, I received a call from Emmanuel Pratt, the director of SWF. He offered his assistance in helping us build our aquaponics system. I agreed to his help but doubtful he would show up.
True to his word he did show and for the next 4–6 hours he worked side by side with my students and myself on a Saturday morning. He spoke to us about what our roles were, invited us to look at the broader picture of what we were doing, to ask the questions like “So what?” “Why does what we are doing matter?” He helped us build our system and then he helped us get into touch with other people. Within 6 hours of him leaving that Saturday afternoon, he had found an investor who donated $1,000 to offset the cost of our materials.
Within weeks he helped put me in touch with people who helped us to get our system running, who taught my students and I about aquaponics, how it works, the chemistry, the biology, and the potential impact on the community. With Pratt’s help he inspired students of mine to learn and do more than they had in the past, they were inspired to pursue their own passions, start their own businesses, do meaningful work and activism for the community.
Pratt and I then worked together with other community members of Chicago-land and we talked, we looked at the needs of the communities we serve, and how, with one another we could make a difference. Honestly, we all became inspired. For me, this conversation and this interaction with Sweet Water Foundation changed how I approach teaching. For one week during the year my freshman design their own mini-aquaponics systems using Google Sketchup, they then speak with another local company, Brew and Grow and Sweet Water Foundation who help our students understand the types of aquaponics systems they are designed and how they work. The students then build their systems from scratch, get them working, install them in parallel with the school‘s aquaponics system, grow their plants do their water quality tests and make discoveries of their own.
This to me is the essence of real science. Students have said how this one project has changed their perspective on science, there desire to want to learn more and do more with it would never have been possible without the initial community outreach that Emmanuel Pratt, through Sweet Water Foundation, had offered that one Saturday.
Since that initial introduction manifested by Sweet Water Foundation, they continue to be an excellent resource for Whitney Young and many other schools in the Midwest.
Shajan M. John
Mahattil International LLC.
This is to inform anyone interested about the role of Sweet Water Foundation and your leadership in implementing the highly impactful Empowerment through Aquaponics: Wisconsin Kerala Connection with our partner University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mahattil International LLC is very pleased to have played a partner role with you in this very important project. Your June 2011 US State department funded tour through six cities in India speaking about aquaponics, food security and sustainable agriculture methods was the impetus for this program’s development.
The USDA grant awarded to Sweet Water Foundation to develop curriculum for training Milwaukee area teachers on aquaponics to inspire them to incorporate it into their school’s STEM initiatives was leveraged for my own training in the topic. This material was reused to train the eight member UW-Madison student team that participated in the six week service learning project resulting in building of a laboratory scale aquaponics system at the Wet lab of St.Alberts College, Aquaculture department in Cochin, India. The one week training conducted by SWF was to teach and learning how to transfer the knowledge to their peers in a foreign country; design and build a system together while incorporating art into the collaborative work.
To complement the small grant from UW Madison and to enable greater participation Sweet Water Foundation’s own interns as coaches for the Madison students SWF mobilized a major community effort to raise awareness of aquaponics and what it can do in the project. Additional funds were raised using an Indiegogo campaign and bringing in community people that came from far and near to Bay View for a gala night with food, music, dance, cultural programs and silent auction of art at Sweet Water premises.
The dedicated work of SWF team Jesse Blom, Jill Frey, Chaya Nayak, Jason Axt, Matt Ray, Todd Leach, Mark Haase; leadership and counsel of Emmanuel Pratt - all of whom you have surrounded yourself with in your vision of democratization of aquaponics is what made executing this project work smooth and key to our success. Many volunteers with affinity to SWF’s work that helped us are not listed here by name but certainly is a testament to the essential nature of the work that you are doing.
The outcomes from this work are numerous to list all - most importantly it has proven to be a template of a program in developing globally minded socially conscious next generation leaders that are confident in their ability to work across cultural differences solving today’s big challenges and opportunities. Those interested to learn more about this project are invited to visit growingnetworks.weebly.com
Environmental Science Teacher
Rufus King High School
James Godsil and the good people at Sweet Water Organics have been absolutely integral to my high school students’ success in aquaponics. Over the past 3 years, we have designed, built, and run aquaponics systems each year, harvesting, deconstructing, and redesigning a new system each year. We have had a lot of success running these systems, have recieved some recognition, and most importantly, the students have learned an incredible amount, from building and engineering skills to farming and culinary skills. Without Sweet Water’s support and assistance, there is no way we would have been able to accomplish even a small percentage of this. We use our systems in our classroom daily and are extraordinarily thankful to Sweet Water.
Environment & Resources
Business, Environment & Social Responsibility
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
University of Wisonsin-Madison
“I worked with Sweet Water on two class projects and was involved in the pilot of Growing Networks (Empowerment through Aquaponics: Wisconsin-Kerala Connection). Ever since I learned about aquaponics in 2009 I have been inspired to take action. Working with Sweet Water has significantly increased my growing curiosity of local food systems, urban agriculture, and business operations. I have even started the process of building my own system. Sweet Water is a trail-blazing organization that has allowed me to gain a significant amount of practical knowledge of the crucial scientific and business components of aquaponics. My goal is to continue to work within the aqauaponics community in hopes of making it part of my lifestyle. I would ultimately like to work in the growing aquaponics industry.”
³My experience last summer was rewarding both professionally and personally. I was fortunate to help design the program in my business class as a semester long project and be selected as a finalist to join the excursion to India. Our project was a critical first step address the holistic view of sustainability. The first installment of Growing Networks was a success and we all learned valuable lessons along the way. Not everything went according to plan and there were hardships along the way. However, it was overcoming these obstacles (such as finding the right tools, searching for local materials, and interacting with people) that made it even more rewarding. Personally, I never thought I¹d be able to connect with so many brilliant/fun/enthusiastic students
from India that I now call friends. This project allowed me to travel across the world to understand a different culture and way of life, only to realize that we aren’t so different after all.²
³I am currently in my first year of Graduate School at UW-Madison in the Environment & Resources program with a focus on
sustainable business. Because Sweet Water Foundation was such a wonderful organization to work with, I keep in constant contact in hopes of working with them in the future. I have also been fortunate enough to develop another semester long project in my business class to better understand the operations of Sweet Water Organics. My future goals are to continue working on the
Growing Networks project as well as Sweet Water Foundation.² -Travis Blomberg
”Marc W van Iersel”
Professor, Plant Nutrition and Physiology
Department of Horticulture 1111 Miller Plant Sciences Building The University of Georgia
It was great to meet you; your enthusiasm was inspiring and infectious. The goal of exposing large numbers of young students to aquaponics is wonderful: the more they get exposed to ecology, agriculture, and science in general, the better. This country certainly needs to get young people much more excited about these fields than they are now. Aquaponics may be a simple way to do so.
Please keep me informed about your activities; it is an inspiring story that can have a real impact on the future generation of farmers and scientists.
Best of luck,
Jul 10, 2012
Director of Community Connections
Francis Parker School
330 W. Webster Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
I hope your summer has been unfolding in a rich and beautiful way. I’d love to hear what you have going on — I bet it’s amazing.
Our students’ visit to Sweetwater was a real highlight of their year in Community Connections. The students and teachers were all deeply impressed by the aquaponics presentation — let me know if you ever need testimonials! I sent you some student reflections already; here’s an excerpt of one 9th grader’s final reflection Community Connections that articulates your impact pretty well:
I learned to value the innovative ideas which special individuals proposed during my encounters with them. The people at Sweet Water Organics developed and instituted unique ideas that would serve well for the benefit and efforts towards the River and the environment which surrounds Chicago. Their ideas were cutting edge and made me aware of the new actions and steps which the community as well as individuals just like me are/can take in order to develop a better understanding of where the aquatic environment needs to head in the future for the benefit of the Chicagoan community. After visiting the Aquaponics center, which was the most valuable experience throughout the Community Connections program this year, I discovered that there were actually people who took action against the destruction of the environment—the same one which so many people within the community rely on every day.
Thank you for partnering with us in such a powerful way. And, we’d like to build on last year! The teachers who came to visit felt strongly that a visit to Sweetwater Organics in Milwaukee would be beneficial for ALL of our 9th graders, in conjunction with their sustainability in 9th grade Science. I think you and I talked about this possibility a year ago when we first started brainstorming. I’d really like the science teachers to talk to you more about planning this, but first wanted to check in with you about the idea - is this something we can move forward with? Please let me know what you think.
With best wishes,
Shanti on behalf of Francis Parker School Community Connections
Oct 22, 2012
urbanologist | researcher | blogger
[Responding to vision of Sweet Water “Aquapons” in 5% of schools…]
That looks very interesting and promising! I will discuss it with my colleagues this week, and see if we can give some good comments.
Thanks for sharing,
Dr. Kathleen Rehbein
Professor of Management, Marquette University
Social Issues Division, Academy of Management
International Association of Business and Society
Hi James, thank you so much for tacking timeout of your schedule to meet with my graduate students. I thought that the tour was very interesting, learning about your new efforts, etc. I also thought that you and the other person talking ? (I did not catch his name, sorry), did a good job of explaining the importance of aquaponics, the importance of urban agriculture. It was interesting to put your efforts in a broader societal context. I also appreciated your candid discussion about the challenges of trying to make Sweetwater financially sustainable. I hope that something works out…there is alot of good work going on there, its a good place for generating new ideas, passions, hope for solutions. I always enjoy your positive energy, passion…as well as the place!! so thank you very much, take care, Kathy
South Bend Professor/”Partner”
Wonderful articulation, written with all the positivism and vision so many of us know and admire you for. You speak to the community-building aspects of Sweet Water related to the Bay View neighborhood and to greater Milwaukee over a period of time, developed through many careful partnerships and collaborations. This is the very best strategy for moving ahead - highlighting Sweet Water’s plentiful contributions, your desire to continue building on all the partnerships, and helping others focus on what an extraordinary asset Sweet Water is for Bay View.
You words are constructive and inclusive, and model for me that despite the pitfalls of community development work, it is worth it to roll our sleeves up, engage others, and innovate. That is how change happens and how communities move forward.
Through thick and thin, thank you, and Sweet Water, for being such an inspiration.
“South Bend “Partner” of Sweet Water”
Thor Stolen Aquaponics Teacher Cohort
MEC Middle School in Milwaukee
As you know I had the pleasure of working with Jesse last year on our aquaponic system. My interest began with a sustainability class I took with Matt Ray and a field trip to Growing Power. I was amazed by what they were doing over there. I immediately scheduled a field trip and everything went wonderful. When I went to recreate the experience the next year I was shocked to find out that Growing Power had dramatically raised their prices and actually priced out the poor urban youth that I was teaching.
When I heard about Sweet Water my curiosity in aquaponics grew again. I came to your first open house event and enjoyed what was going on, but realized that this was more of a business than an educational non-profit. Later I learned from Tricia Young that you guys had expanded into an educational institute and I knew I wanted to be on board. Jesse came to Bay View and immediately started building a relationship with the students. I liked working with him from the start. He was patient and eager to share aquaponics knowledge. With him we visited the Sweet Water Facilitiy which amazed the kids, then we created a small classroom model, and later built a large model in the green house. The aquaponics system served as an incentive to get kids to work hard so that they could go up to the green house. It also served as a learning tool where kids learned measuring skills and increased their creativity by designing the system. The system was used for science purposes in biology, chemistry, and ecology. We used English skills by writing observations, narratives and expositroy pieces of the work we did with aquaponics. And we even did a creative writing lesson about being one of the fish where kids used a first person point of view prentending to be one of the fish. With math we used volume, surface area, and perimeter when measuring a grow beds, learned flow rate, and other valuable hands on lessons. The aquaponics sytem also served as a tool that united the class and made them feel part of something special. Students were eager to share their project with their peers and other staff. Aquaponics also openned the doors of opportunity for the students. They all hoped to go to King or Riverside because they saw their aquaponic systems at the symposium. That was also a great event; students had to make public speaches and talk to adults about their projects. One student also went on to present at WIABE (Wisconsin Bilingual Education Conference). We also learned about the anatomy of a fish and how to fillet a fish when we harvested our fish and crops and enjoyed a fishfry with salad at the end of the year.
Personally I am working on my own aquaponics system, was involved in the USDA grant, and took the first 3 credit graduate class offered on Aquaponics in the lower 48 states at UW-Stevens Point who worked with Nelson and Pade. I also will use aquaponics in my dissertation that I’m working on at UWM.
This year I am creating a new aquaponics system at Gaenslen Middle School in Riverwest and will hopefully take another trip to Sweet Water. Aquaponics has opened up many opportunities for my students and I. I hope to continue to work with the staff at Sweet Water because they are passionate and extremely resourceful. Thanks again for the opportunitues you have provided my students and I.
Honey Creek CP School
‘Sweet Water joined us to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, 2010. Representatives from Sweet Water set up various learning stations and Honey Creek students had the opportunity to learn about aquaponics, composting, and worm farms. Sweet Water also worked with our students to set up a community vegetable garden and the students and the larger community enjoyed the ‘fruits’ of their labor.’
Jamie, just add to it if I have omitted any piece!
Each grade level worked together on stations.
Adding compost/soil to raised beds.
The Garden Club/Earth Club made up of 3rd and 4th graders met once a week at lunch to maintain garden.
I was lucky enough to take a tour, led by an employee named Nick, on Sunday afternoon, October 28.
The facility is really innovative and I am inspired to see such a creative re-use of an old factory building, but most remarkable was the guiding passion of the employees and founder for the whole project and its close attention to community engagement and development.
Way to go, Sweet Water! I’m excited to monitor your development in the Milwaukee community.