The Flat-Pack Farm project
Aquaponic and hydroponic systems used as cross-curricula educational tools, also providing food and resource efficient agriculture skills.
The Flat-Pack Fish - A productive aquaponic system designed for the learning environment. Fish are grown (to observe or for food), and their waste is used as a sustianble nutrient source for hydroponic production of edible plants. The Flat-Pack fish is designed to be used as an interactive, cross-curricula learning tool, with lesson guidance and hands-on activities enabling its use to cover topics in literacy, numeracy and science. And at the end of term - you can eat the classroom!
EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA
Education is an essential part of the humanitarian and emergency relief coordination efforts. As such, temporary learning spaces (TLS’s) become part of the refugee camp landscape. However, given the temporary nature of the TLS, it becomes a key challenge to make them “worthwhile” learning spaces without investment in permanent infrastructure.
Given the temporary nature assumed of refugee crises there is very little focus – and sometimes outright prohibition – on developing agricultural and food production activities within the relief coordination effort, as these tend to reflect a more long-term approach. However, food and water security issues are a key concern in refugee communities. Therefore, efforts to help refugees reclaim food sovereignty can enhance the dignity and control within the situation, while reducing dependence on aid.
Our idea addresses these needs through providing a valuable educational tool that can easily be incorporated into the TLS. This tool also serves as a practical example of a space and water efficient farming method that can produce both vegetables and protein (fish), and a platform for skills transfer and capacity building.
Our project idea has been developed and field tested predominately in the Middle East and the U.K. However, our idea is a robust and flexible solution that can work in many countries, regions, climates and situations. It can readily be used within temporary, newly formed or long-term refugee communities, whether those communties are in camps or living within host societies.
Our project idea is the result of several years developing food security and sustainable agriculture projects in marginalised communities in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. During this time we have demonstrated the effectiveness of hydroponic and aquaponic techniques as methods of enhancing food security and providing meaningful, engaging activities . We have also trialed the use of these systems as cross-curricula learning resources in U.K. classroom environments, and are now able to bring both education and food security aspects together under our proposed Flat-Pack Farm project.
Given one month to test and refine our idea, we would work with TLSs or schools in refugee communities to install Flat-Pack Farms, monitoring engagement and attainment in literacy, numeracy and science classes using the Flat-Pack Farm as an educational resource, and performing KAP assessments and focus group discussions with pupils, parents and teachers to collect qualitative and quantitative feedback.
We have been able to develop the core Flat-Pack Farm systems to be robust, effective and suitable for most environments thanks to the on-going feedback from our previous project partners and beneficiaries. On the educational side, we have received feedback from primary and secondary teachers, educational programme developers and the toughest judges of all - school pupils.
However, we are aware of the need to tailor educational materials to each environment and context that we hope to work in - for example the U.K's National Curriculum requirements will not correlate directly to learning requirements set out by other national educational frameworks. Therefore we would be very keen to work with, and collect feedback from, educators and pupils in other regions.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
Our organisation, Byspokes CIC, has been working in the sustianable agriculture and food security field for several years, with a geographic focus in the MENA region.
IS THIS AN IDEA THAT YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO TAKE FORWARD?
Yes, and I am looking for a partner working with refugee communities to implement this idea.