From Devon & Cornwall Police:
Hydroponic equipment confiscated from criminal drugs operations is to be used for organic food growing projects in schools thanks to a partnership between police and a social enterprise.
Educational social enterprise, Bespoke Engaging Education Services (BEES UK) is partnering with Devon and Cornwall Police to take the systems into schools across the region and train staff and students to create super-efficient food growing projects integrated into the curriculum.
Hydroponics is the method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions. It is a technique sometimes employed in the production of cannabis, and in such cases, when the systems are seized by police they have to be destroyed at public expense.
Following discussions between BEES UK and police representatives, a new project has been launched to recycle the equipment for schools, creating aquaponics systems, where the vital nutrients are provided by resident fish through their waste products.
Superintendent Craig Downham is responsible for local policing and partnerships in Plymouth. He said: “Devon and Cornwall Police prefer not to send items, which still have a useful purpose, to landfill. Specialist waste, such as that found in hydroponic equipment, costs us a considerable amount of money to dispose of. So, this is a win-win situation, putting the equipment to good use and saving public money. We have good working relationships with many charities donating items such as bikes, clothing, foodstuffs and saleable goods.”
Nathan Potts, Director of BEES UK said: “The long-term dream is to see every school engaging in food growing initiatives helping promote healthier lifestyles and nutrition awareness. We’re taking equipment that has been used in the commission of illegal drugs production and repurposing it for positive educational and, potentially, nutritional benefit. It is low maintenance for the schools and the pupils have the added engagement of being able to study the fish.
“The project is a natural extension of BEES’ work and has the potential to be rolled out to other areas of the country and to a wide range of institutions. The team has already developed learning resources and plans for schools that want to install the technology, including appointing student ‘aqua ambassadors’ to encourage peer learning.”
BEES is now looking to work with a landowner in Devon or Cornwall to establish a demonstration site that could be visited by schools interested in using the aquaponic and hydroponic systems. To find out more go to www.beesuk.org