Incredible Edible’s aqua garden was officially opened on Monday, making Todmorden one of the few places in the UK offering hands-on experience of new food producing techniques.
The new facility, situated on land behind Todmorden High School, houses three different growing methods: aquaponics, hydroponics and soil growing.
The aqua garden will enable students from the high school - and from around the world via a website - to compare and contrast data on three different growing methods.
Pam Warhurst, chairwoman of the Incredible Edible Aqua Garden, said the new facility places Todmorden at the forefront of a revolutionary movement.
“This has been four years in the making,” she said.
“We’ve overcome many challenges to get this far and now the aqua garden is a reality. But this is just the beginning.
“This aqua garden will link everything together, from growing food to cooking it. It will be one of the only places in the country where people can gain hands-on experience of aquaponics.
“Gaining skills and confidence in growing more of our own food, and using a number of different methods such as aquaponics, will become even more crucial in the future as our global food system is stretched.
“Aquaponics offers a useful tool in the battle to produce enough healthy food in a humane and sustainable way.
“It will also offer the young people of Todmorden the opportunity to build expertise and careers in the food industry.”
The aqua garden project was able to go-ahead after receiving a grant of £544,785 from the Big Lottery Fund through Local Food.
Building work was completed by Green Future Builders.
Myles Bremner, director of the School Food Plan, food writer Rosemary Moon and Mayor of Todmorden Coun Jayne Booth were among the special guests at the launch event.
Coun Booth, who officially opened the aqua garden, said: “This project clearly highlights IET’s innovation, creating new educational and career opportunities for young people whilst championing the sustainable food agenda.
“This is an inspirational project that I am sure will continue to grow.”
Educational work through the aqua garden will form part of the BTEC qualification in agriculture and horticulture on offer at Todmorden High School.
It will also form a wider role in the curriculum, from science to history and maths to food technology, for students from schools across the north.
Hydroponics is a method of growing crops using mineral rich water without soil.
A number of crops in the aqua garden will be grown hydroponically, such as tomatoes, beans, small herbs and salad crops.
Aquaponics is a food production method that combines the rearing of fish with hydroponics in a closed, self-sustaining system.