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Food - Fiber - Knowledge: Harnessing the Power of Aquaponics to do GREAT things!

O’odham Oidak

2000 - 2005


The groundbreaking O’odham Oidak (the people’s fields) fish and shrimp farm on the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) was a project initiated by Ed Mendoza of the Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Center (JDRC) on the Gila River Indian Community in the early 2000s.  Using the Pens in Earthen Raceway Culture (PERC) integrated aquaculture agriculture method developed by RighTrac CoFounder Dr. George Brooks,Jr., the mission of O’odam Oidak was to use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to rehabilitate youth.


The program was enhanced through cooperation with Joyce Baldwin and the Sacaton Middle School. The results of the program were outstanding. Not only did it grow hundreds of pounds of Tilapia and Giant Freshwater Prawns providing a new potential tribal industry, it also grew really smart kids. Thanks to Ed and Joyce, GRIC students were entered in local science fairs where they won. They then went on to win state and international science fairs as well.  Finally the program was honored with a cover page photo in Aquaculture Magazine and the children presented as scientists at the World Aquaculture meetings in New Orleans and San Diego.


Outcomes:   STEM education

                    Community revitalization

                    Rehabilitation and prevention of recidivism

                    Life skill enhancement

                    Improved community nutrition

                    Community economic development


Please click here to read an excellent article on the program.

Projects

Gila Crossing Elementary School

2010 - Present


Led by Ed Mendoza, the mission of the Gila Crossing Elementary School project on the Gila River Indian Community is to use aquaponics, greenhouse horticulture and the school garden as a powerful STEM educational tool, encourage home gardening, improve local nutrition, and eventually provide a new food source for the school cafeteria.  The project is anchored by a modified University of Virgin Islands (UVI) style aquaponics unit custom designed and constructed by RighTrac. Now in its third year, we are working with Mr. Mendoza to develop new project based curriculums for the school to take advantage of all that has been learned.


Outcomes:   STEM education

                    Community revitalization

                    Life skill enhancement

                    Improved community nutrition

                    Community economic development

Orchard Community Learning Center

2012 - Present


A 7 acre rehabilitated orchard in South Phoenix Arizona, the Valley View Orchard Community Learning Center was founded by former Valley View Elementary School Principal John Wann as a place community children and parents visit to learn STEM and the arts of agriculture together. Now beginning its second year of Aquaponics using a RighTrac designed system, Valley View is now developing curricula to meet both the needs of the children and adults.


Outcomes:   STEM education

                    Community revitalization

                    Rehabilitation and prevention of recidivism

                    Life skill enhancement

                    Improved community nutrition

                    Community economic development

                    Culinary Skills

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The Dr. George Benjamin Brooks Sr. Community School       2012 - Present


This project is moving forward rapidly thanks to the innovative leadership at the Roosevelt School District. In summary, part of the Roosevelt School District in South Phoenix Arizona, the dream of the Dr. George Benjamin Brooks Sr. Community School is to be “an innovative community incubator of wellness, education and success.” Through sustainable project based learning the school will develop individual and community uplift and resiliency through the embedding of empowering sustainability based skills including:


Individual and Community Economics and Business Skills:


         Retailing, Small Business, Agriculture,


Social and Life Skills


          Healthy Living, Culinary, Arts and Crafts, Basic Life.


Environmental Skills


          STEMM - Science, Technology, Engineering,

          Mathematics & Medicine.


Anchoring the Community School effort is the 13,000 ft2 Brooks learning greenhouse. To be designed and facilitated by RighTrac, the aquaponics and plant propagation facilities will train youth and community members in horticulture, aquaponics, agriculture, biology, botany, chemistry, mathematics, self reliance and much much more. The plan is also for plant seedlings to be available to the community and to support the 3 acres of community gardens managed by Tiger Mountain Foundation on the grounds outside of the greenhouse. The food produced may eventually be used by the school district through a farm to school program.

Greenhouse Construction Brooks Community School 8/19/2013

LOGSLogs/Logs.html

The Community Urban Agriculture Project      

2014 - Present ($108-K EPA Grant)


Project Summary


The Urban Horticulture and Agribusiness program at Mesa Community College (MCC), in partnership with the Roosevelt School District and RighTrac Inc., received a two-year $108,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Education grant to establish a Center for Urban Agriculture (CUA). Along with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education for K-8 through adults, the Center will serve as a hub for the development and dissemination of educational programs focused on urban agriculture, sustainability and community enhancement.


Through this program participants learn to utilize open spaces, abandoned lots, and suitable brownfield sites in the Greater Phoenix area to produce and eat healthy foods, reduce air and water pollution, reduce the urban heat island effect, establish and run profitable businesses, and beautify their neighborhoods. For example one new course that has arisen from the CUA is Aquaponics AGS166. "Aquaponics is an advanced method of aquatic food production where fish provide nutrients to quickly and efficiently grow plants for healthy foods. The desired outcomes are successful, clean, healthy, sustainable, revitalized communities where people can work and live in safety and really really smart kids.

Click here to read full project description.(PDF)

Link to MCC Center for Urban Agriculturehttp://www.mesacc.edu/departments/applied-sciences-and-technology/urban-horticulture/center-urban-agriculture
Link to Media CoverageNews.html

Click on photos to expand and for captions

Gila Crossing

O’odham Oidak