Olesen’s aquaponics system promotes sustainability


Andrea Neff

IVCC professor Jared Olesen explains the dynamics of the aquaponics system assembled in the greenhouse on campus. Olesen, who teaches sociology classes on campus, is not only in charge of the greenhouse, but also leads the college’s sustainability team. Displayed behind Olesen are the chambers that allow plants to grow horizontally while suspended above the ground. The aquaponics system will utilize nutrients provided through a system composed of fish and plants that circulate and recycle nutrients in order to sustain plants. The IVCC greenhouse is currently growing onion stalks (bottom right) using materials which mimic a natural environment. Olesen encourages students to visit the greenhouse and see the system first hand, and get involved with sustainability efforts on campus.

If someone took a quick glance around the Illinois Valley one of the first things that would come to their mind would probably be farming crops. But how many people would think of self-contained, indoor, organic crops?

In the modern world of sustainability a new breakthrough called aquaponics has been becoming more and more mainstream. Recently, IVCC instructor Jared Olesen and the sustainability group have developed an aquaponics system in the IVCC greenhouse.
An aquaponics system is a way to grow anything indoors or outdoors through the use of mimicking a natural environment. The system is composed of fish and plants that circulate and recycle nutrients on their own which produces a thriving environment for both.

Olesen says, “It’s sort of a symbiotic relationship between the plants and the fish, you’re kind of simulating what happens in nature.”

Student and sustainability enthusiast, Brandt Nicholson, says that the system is beneficial in that not only does it create an entire ecosystem within IVCC’s greenhouse, but is good that IVCC can expand upon a popular industry and teach student multiple new tools.

The aquaponics system won’t only be of service to the sustainability team at IVCC, says Olesen, but it can reach far beyond that.

Biology, chemistry, horticulture, environment students and more can learn multiple things from everything going on in one small, contained spot.

This system is nearly revolutionary in the way in which it provides an outlook on a sustainable future by pushing the boundaries of technology and resources. Aquaponics systems thrive in rural greenhouses to urban concrete jungles, making the possibilities of this entrepreneurship endless.

Olesen invites all students, faculty, and staff to stop by the greenhouse and take a look at the amazing structure being developed and learn more about the importance of the system.