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Fish Farm Coop, Students Get Along Swimmingly in Hell's Kitchen

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Students in Hell's Kitchen are getting some hands-on learning in science at two new facilities. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

A healthy morning snack was in store Thursday for hundreds of tilapia living in a peculiar place -- a tank in the basement of Food and Finance High School where they are being raised.

"If the technology is correct, you should be able to produce fish on a high quantity in a balanced ecologically driven environment," said Cornell University Cooperative Extension Applied Scientist and Extension Associate Philson Warner.

Warner runs the combination fish farm and lab for Cornell University Cooperative Extension, raising thousands of tilapia and other fish. He is assisted by students from Food and Finance and other high schools located in the building. The fish all go to good use too, used by culinary arts and catering programs.

"Sometimes the Food Network uses the fish from here; that's how clean and safe and good tasting the fish is," Warner noted.

The lab welcomes visitors from around the world looking to raise fish quickly and without the use of antibiotics and steroids.

"We seem to be overfishing our oceans, so we have to find ways to produce healthy, clean staple fish on a large scale to feed the population that we have on the planet," Warner said.

Up on the third floor in another lab there is something different going on called hydroponics, basically the growing of plants and vegetables with a nutrient solution and no soil. So where do the fish come in? Their waste helps grow the lettuce and then a loop system helps return clean water for the fish to grow in.

For the students, it's a great opportunity that comes with big responsibilities.

"I would like to teach people this as a career and I would like to work with this because it is very interesting," said Travis Rosado, a student intern.

"They are seeing it from seed if you will, when we are talking about the hydroponics, from seed to actual production and on the table," said Food and Finance High School Principal Roger Turgeon.

The trend will continue with construction of a rooftop greenhouse this summer.

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