Students at Kangaroo Island Community Education’s Parndana Campus have created a groundbreaking ‘aquaponics’ project, which now provides sustainably produced barramundi and a range of hydroponic herbs to Southern Ocean Lodge to the delight of the kitchen team and the relish of its guests.

Established in 2004, the school’s Rural Production facility incorporates aquaculture, agriculture and horticulture. The aquaculture project has become a commercially successful producer of sustainable barramundi and fresh hydroponic herbs over its 10 year development.

The project initially captured the attention of former Southern Ocean Lodge Head Chef Tim Bourke as he prepared for the opening of Kangaroo Island’s luxury lodge in 2008. Tim set about working closely with the students to arrange supply of the school’s barramundi, herbs, edible flowers and lettuce for its daily-changing menus.

As a very cool rural education success story, the project is increasingly drawing interest from specialist food groups and the media alike.

With the help of the Rural Production teacher Barbara Cooper and Aquaculture & Groundsman Daniel Dunstan, the students have been able to get a very hands-on experience of the aquaculture project, an initiative that has proven to be richly rewarding to everyone involved.

A recirculated barramundi farm has been established inside a temperature-controlled shed on the school grounds, comprising a series of pools which house the fish from fingerlings to full-sized fish ready for harvesting. The barramundi are graded by age and size in each pool where they are fed a ‘barra feed’ composite supplied by Skrettings sustainable feeds in Tasmania.