LOUDONVILLE — Loudonville High School FFA members are using fish to enrich vegetable and garden plants in their greenhouse this winter.

As a spinoff from a grant-funded tower garden hydroponics project, members are now applying the same techniques in other growth medium to raise vegetable plants, including spinach, lettuce and kale, in the greenhouse.

"Water is taken from the fish tank, where about 40 yellow perch fingerlings were started a few weeks ago, and the water runs through a bed of hydroponic/aquaponics medium where the spinach and other plants have been planted," freshman Brett Carnegie said. "The waste from the fish is separated from the water in the medium, and the water, cleaned, then returned, by pump, to the large fish tank."

The water also is used to feed conventionally grown plants in the FFA greenhouse, including flowering plants as well as vegetables. They will be sold by the chapter later this school year.

"We are utilizing the same concept that is used with the tower garden to feed the other plants," Carnegie said.

Carnegie said the chapter acquired the fish tank and hydroponics bed at least 10 years ago, "but we stopped using it when the pump broke," he said. "Last fall a couple of our members wanted to try hydroponic gardening again, and they fixed the pump, so we are now using the equipment again."