Inspiring children to learn and understand more about sustainable food production

The Aquila School, an exciting new British school in Dubailand, is fast differentiating itself from many other schools in Dubai by offering unique educational features and approaches to learning.

One of The Aquila School’s stand-out feature is its hydroponics farm, which consists of two farming units utilising a off-the-grid (that is, not using Dubai’s water and electricity supplies) solution where solar panels and saltwater-to-freshwater production units, combined with a state-of-the-art aquaponic greenhouse. This enables students to grow fresh, natural, organic produce using sustainable and environmentally friendly technology.

The first farming unit is a 1,700 sq ft hydroponic unit, which is temperature-controlled, and has the capacity to grow over 6,000 plants and a variety of produce all year round. The second unit is an 800 sq ft soil farming set-up, which can grow seasonal and perennial plants, depending on the weather.

Wayne Howsen, Principal, commented: “At The Aquila School, our positioning is real learning for a real future. Our hydroponics farm is an integral part of our curriculum, and with this, we are able to give our children real life learning experiences. Every child in our school has their own growing station, and throughout the year, they are able to grow a range of plants and produce. For example, some of our younger children have grown flowers for Mother’s Day, and our older children have grown vegetables for their cookery classes.”

“As we grow, our farm will be producing up to one tonne of produce every month. This is a significant amount of produce and the possibilities are endless. We will use the farms to support our food technology lessons, run our own enterprise activities where we sell the produce to our families (or maybe even sell the produce to the local supermarkets!), as well as prepare the children’s lunches for our on-site cafeteria.”

The project has been set up in collaboration with the Sharjah Research, Technology & Innovation Park (SRTIP) and Merlin Eco Green Technologies, who are renowned for developing sustainable farming solutions utilising innovative technologies in areas such as Solar Desalination, Vertical Farming, and Aquaponics.

Mohsin Hassan, Project Manager from Merlin Eco Green Technologies, added:

“This is a unique project – it is the only hydroponics farm in the UAE at the moment to be fully sustainable from the ground up. It was designed and constructed to be long lasting, using sustainable materials, and it is completely off-the-grid, right from the water supply, which uses a solar desalination process, to the electricity, which comes from solar panels. Our temperature controlled greenhouse uses a lot less electricity compared to traditional methods due to the condensation water filtering process we use.”

“We hope that with this project, we will encourage children to learn and understand more about sustainable food production and different cultivation techniques, and perhaps inspire them to venture into this field of study, especially with the increasing food shortage problems around the world,” he concluded.