By Dave Crawley

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Chatham’s Eden Hall Farm in Richland Township is known for sustainable agriculture. Next door to the big barn, the Aqua Lab is doing some farming of a different sort.

Laurel Hill Farm has brought 500 newborn trout to the campus.

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Lab director Roy Weitzel and grad student Samantha Harvey load the trout into three tanks.

Weitzel says it’s a practice run for future experiments with “feed recipes that we can grow here on campus, using plants, duckweed, maybe insects and worms, other types of protein sources, that we can use to create our own experimental feeds.”

Laurel Hill Farm raises a quarter million fish a year in Somerset and Osterburg.

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“These are about 6-months-old,” says co-owner Adam Pritts. “We bring them down to the tank, and now they’re these guys’ babies to take care of.”

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Chatham’s goal is to produce protein more efficiently. They’re also experimenting with sustainability through aquaponics.

Tilapias in a side tank give off waste, which is pumped into another tank, which then makes its way up through a pipe, and is pumped in as fertilizer for tomatoes for the students to eat. When the tilapias are done, the students will eat them, too.

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When the trout are full size in the fall, they too, will wind up on students’ dinner plates.