Rob Handler harvested his research, but it wasn't the usual kale, onions and basil that the operations manager of Michigan Technological University's Sustainable Futures Institute grew in his greenhouse. It was the key ingredient for fish tacos, which were then served at a residence hall on campus.
"We were growing tilapia," Handler said. "They are a hardy fish that grows well in a controlled environment." They were also the key ingredient in his aquaponics project, where fish waste fertilized the plants and plants kept fish healthy by cleaning their water.
"It's the same interaction that happens in the natural world," said Handler, operations a senior research engineer at Michigan Tech. "We just managed things with tanks and pipes."
Once the aquaponics project was completed, the tilapia were turned over to Michigan Tech Dining Services and wound up on the lunch tables at Wadsworth Hall. The fish tacos were a resounding success, combined with coleslaw made of carrots and cabbage from the residence hall's organic garden. Sometimes good research tastes good, too.
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