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A school garden in the school pool

Photo credit: New Zealand Gardener

Andrew Farquhar/Contemporary Creative

Pupils at Wairakei School in Taupo tend the veges growing in their aquaponics system

How a Taupo primary school pool became a vegetable garden

by CHRISTINE RUSH

What do you get when you cross a former swimming pool, some keen pupils and a whole heap of goldfish? A highly productive aquaponics system.

Wairakei Primary School in Taupo has what is thought to be the only school aquaponics unit in New Zealand. Officially opened in May, it is the culmination of three years planning and fundraising, says teacher aide and Enviroschools leader Diana Fitzsimmons.

The school used to have outdoor gardens but due to the chilly climate and light pumice soil, nothing grew.

“Adding compost and nutrients didn’t help and they were costing a fortune,” says Diana.

At the same time the swimming pool was decommissioned. The pupils came up with ideas for the space: a skateboard park, flying fox, spongeball pit, trampoline or garden.

“They went through pros and cons and how they would run them, and came up with one with the most benefit for school and community: an aquaponics unit.”

Local businesses and tradesmen helped supply and fit the plumbing, equipment and electrics. The pool area is covered with a FlexiTunnel and needs little maintenance.

Read the full article: New Zealand Gardener

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.