W.B. SAUL HIGH SCHOOL

Objective:
To design and build a state-of-the-art experiential STEM living laboratory and production facility at Philadelphia’s W.B. Saul High School, the largest agricultural farm school in the United States.

Outcome:
In April 2017, INTAG built a 600-square foot custom aquaponics system in the aquaculture room of Saul’s agriculture building. With the installation, Saul launched robust, hands-on programs and accompanying curriculum for STEM education, hard sciences (biology, chemistry, environmental science), agricultural technology, data analytics, entrepreneurship, marketing, and more. Additionally, the system is capable of producing more than 1,000 heads of lettuce each month, which along with herbs and other greens, are used in the school cafeteria or sold to a local community supported agriculture (CSA) organization. The wheelchair accessible build provides a living laboratory experience for a diverse student population. The $150,000 project included the construction of the hardware, accompanying curriculum, and teacher support and training, with funding from state grants and private industry.

Background:
W. B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences is a magnet school serving more than 500 students on a 130-acre campus in the upper Roxborough section of Philadelphia. The multi-building complex includes an arboretum and athletic fields, golf course, nursery, field crops, pasture area for the livestock, and a working farm which houses poultry, dairy, swine, sheep, horses. Food Moxie (the organization formerly known as Weaver’s Way Community Programs) runs a seasonal farm market (from May through October) on site that has become a food hub for the community.

Saul has the largest Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the United States. Saul’s INTAG system sets the standard for dual purpose aquaponic systems (production and education) that deliver on a diverse set of curriculum requirements. The school also plans to partner with three Pennsylvania colleges and universities, via articulation agreements, to offer dual enrollment programs.

The INTAG system includes a 210 gallon tilapia tank, media bed, float bed, and four-tier vertical set of nutrient film technique (NFT) grow gutters. There is no discharge or waste with the closed loop system, and no pesticides or synthetic chemicals are used. Pure, natural food grows 60% faster and with 95% less water than traditional farming.

 

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