Herring Gut Learning Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, political affiliation, age, or religious beliefs in the administration of its programs.

Herring Gut's Fish Hatchery and Greenhouse

Herring Gut's fish hatchery and greenhouse are where students participate in hands-on lessons and experiments using aquaponics to demonstrate concepts such as water and nitrogen cycles, plant biology, fish anatomy, math, chemistry, ecology and business management.


Aquaponics is the cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a re-circulating environment. A combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponics pairs fish and plants in one integrated system.  At Herring Gut, Nile tilapia, a commonly aquacultured freshwater fish, are grown in tanks.  The tilapia produce waste containing ammonia, which through a natural bacterial process is converted to nitrite and then nitrate.  The plants in our greenhouse (primarily lettuce and basil) take up the nitrate, grow, and clean the water which is circulated back into the fish tanks. 

Photograph from

School of Roots

In 2011, students in the RSU #13 Middle Level Alternative Education program, formed an aquaponics business called "School of Roots."  Herring Gut partners with this program to provide hands-on science curriculum to the students two days a week through instruction about aquaponics.  The aquaponics program at Herring Gut engages students in academics by igniting their creative and entrepreneurial spirit, promoting the conservation of finite resources and demonstrating the economic and health benefits of sustainable, locally grown food.  Students manage the fish hatchery and greenhouse, vote each other into positions in the business (President, Greenhouse Manager, Fish Hatchery Manager, Water Quality Manager, etc.), and hold regular meetings.  Students sell produce on a regular basis at a school farmer's market, Thomaston Grocery, and other local markets. 



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