Education is a one of the core values of Farm Urban, and as part of our education outreach, we’ve been running an aquaponics enrichment program at Liverpool’s pioneering UTC life science’s college.
Situated in an imposing red-brick converted warehouse in the Baltic Triangle, the school covers 5 floors and has an enormous vaulted basement. Inside it looks and feels nothing like a school, with cutting-edge laboratories on the ground floor, a mock hospital ward and nursery on the first floor, a fully equipped gym that would rival any health club and a full-sized cinema on the top floor.
It’s a state school, but the visionary and groundbreaking approach of the UTC is attracting attention from many different universities and companies, who can already see potential high-calibre students and employees. The school has even managed to attract Dave Hornby, a respected Professor of Biochemistry from Sheffield, who spends 4 days a week doing his research in the school labs, and already has the pupils doing university-level science.
As part of it’s unconventional approach, the school runs a 9-5 day, and some of those extra hours are used for extra-curricular enrichment programs; which is where we come in.
We were invited to the school by the vice-Principal Ian Parry, who asked us to give a masterclass explaining who we were and what our enrichment program would involve to year 12. The enrichment program was limited to 15 spaces, so after the masterclass, all interested pupils were asked to submit a paragraph explaining why we should pick them to be on the course.
We were overwhelmed by the number, quality and passion of the responses, with the “paragraph’s” occasionally extending to over a page. The response highlighted the enthusiasm and calibre of the students. It was a heartbreaking job to prune the responses down to 15, but it had to be done, and we started the program a couple of weeks later.
Over the past few months we’ve been on a journey with the pupils, examining issues of food security and how urban farming can help to solve them, visiting the university aquaculture labs and the Biospheric Project in Salford, and helping to plan a number of exhibitions, including the design and construction of the world’s first aquaponic double-helix.
We’ve been incredibly proud of our enrichment team and are looking forward to working with them to set up a fully functional experimental urban farm in their cavernous basement!