First Friday: from table to farm

The topic for June’s First Friday was black soldier fly larvae, because who doesn’t want to hear about fly larvae over breakfast? As one student said, “they’re not a pest fly, so they won’t land on your sandwich.”

Joseph Fisher, Ann Marie Luppino, and Jack Rogers, students in the Upper Cape Regional Tech’s Environmental Science and Technology program, came to First Friday to tell us about their award winning project of black soldier fly larvae composting systems. With their system they decreased food waste by providing faster decomposition. Decomposing waste instead of sending it to the landfill decreases carbon and methane emissions.

The black fly system also provides protein- and calcium-rich organic feed for fish and chickens, organic worm tea fertilizer, and organic compost.

The Upper Cape Regional Tech has partnered with Marine Biological Laboratories, which has been involved in starting tilapia farms in Haiti. The earthquake has made it difficult to produce food, so larvae is used to feed farm fish as a substitute protein. Otherwise, it takes three tons of ocean fish to feed one ton of farmed fish. The students explained that you can harvest 99% of the larvae without endangering the colony, so it’s completely sustainable.

Not only did students develop their own black fly larvae composting systems, but they’re now presenting the science behind them. The students were professional and completely engaging, generating many questions and piquing curiosity. They are also meeting with local businesses, partnering with some to put black fly larvae systems in place. Big businesses like Enviroflight and AgriProtein are already using black fly larvae.

The students described the trial and error process they went through building the systems. The systems they ended up with ranged from $10 to $30 to build and were made with PVC pipes, 30 gallon bins, five gallon buckets, screen and cardboard. They used recycled newspaper, sawdust from wood shop and food waste from the school’s culinary shop to produce more larvae, worm tea, compost, bait, fish, chicken, reptile, and amphibian feed.

We asked how fast black fly systems work in comparison to our conventional composting bins. Rather than tell us, they showed us.

The Upper Cape Tech uses projects like the black fly larvae system as vehicles to teach the students. They’re real world solutions that are relevant, addressing issues that affect their generation, including climate change and sustainability. We do farm to table, now we need to do table back to farm

The yuck factor is an issue for older generations but the students are into it. and tried to convince us that insects were high in omega 3s and were good for heart health.

No one went for it.

Jack Rogers of Bourne, is a junior at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School and also is serving an internship with the Barnstable Department of Natural Resources. At Upper Cape Tech Jack has participated in extracurricular activities such as School Committee Student Representative, National Honor Society member, Captain of the Football team, and Varsity Lacrosse. He has also participated in the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School’s Science Fair where he received a Silver Medal for a Black Soldier Fly Larvae System design. After high school he strives to pursue a career as a game warden.

Ann Marie Luppino of Wareham is a junior and a volunteer at her town’s middle school, educating the youth on the importance of environmental science and renewable energy. Interested in pursuing a career in environmental engineering, she is an active participant in multiple extracurricular activities. As a junior she has been recognized for her efforts with researching and formulating a project on Denitrifying Bacteria and its effect on freshwater, winning first place in the school’s science fair.

Joseph Fisher, also a junior at Upper Cape Tech, is a resident of Wareham and participant in extracurricular activities such as sports, SkillsUSA, and the UCT Science Fair. He plans on entering the civil engineering field after graduating college.

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