Sustainable Students Association aims to utilize aquaponics facility

by Tyler Jensen

jensenty@mnstate.edu

The Sustainable Students Association is preparing for a lineup of activities after their second meeting this past Wednesday.

Among the group’s plans for this year are a hike through Buffalo State Park, the “Real Food Movement,” and getting the aquaponics facility on top of Hagen Hall working. 

According to Sydney Stracke, the group’s vice president, the Buffalo State Park Nature Hike is a field trip to the Minnesota state park 15 minutes away from campus, this Wednesday.  She adds the trip is open to all MSUM students. The group departs from Hagen Hall at 7:15 p.m. in order to make it to the park in time to watch the sunset.  They will embark on a night hike, play games, and look at the stars using telescopes from the observatory at the park.  Stracke asks that anyone wanting to go e-mails her at strackesy@mnstate.edu.

The group also wants to make campus dining more sustainable, Stracke said. They are planning on working with the “Real Food Movement,” which promotes the consumption of “organic” foods rather than genetically modified produce. The SSA will be hosting a forum for students to voice their opinions on MSUM’s dining services Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the Office of Campus Sustainability on Hagen’s first floor.

Connected to the goal of sustainable eating is the group’s trip to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday at 10 a.m. outside of Hagen.

Finally, the group has hopes to get the aquaponics facility on top of Hagen producing fruits and vegetables. An aquaponics facility functions to produce fruits and vegetables in water without soil. It works by growing plants in water and using fish’s waste to fertilize the plants. Currently, the facility is only utilized for research. She hopes the SSA will be able to increase the output of this facility to harvest fresh produce for use by Kise, SSA members and the general public even throughout the winter. 

Stracke said the tentative budget for the project is between $200 and $300, which the group hopes to get by joining with the Green Dragons and applying to join the Sustainable Campus Initiative Committee, which collects a $5 environmental fee from each student upon their enrollment. According to their web page, these fees total $40,000 a year for “the development of sustainable procedures, programs, facilities, and curriculum” at MSUM. Stracke is unsure if the group can independently collect donations for the project.

Stracke said the project’s biggest challenge is finding people to maintain it. She hopes to solve this by having the club give tours of the aquaponics facility and showing them the produce they could have if the program is a success.

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