Quincy Swatson Feeds Fish, Minds, & Even Dreams with Aquaponics
Sometimes opportunity knocks. Other times it swims and poops, providing nutrients for the plants growing atop its aquarium. SCA alum Quincy Swatson is determined to establish the latter, more rarefied kind of opportunity in the place where he grew up, Pittsburgh’s often troubled Manchester neighborhood.
Quincy’s childhood coincided with Manchester’s ’90s nadir, when crack and gangs were fracturing the community. At age 16, a trip to a national forest with SCA revealed a beautiful world beyond the ugly realities that confronted him daily. “It changed my whole thinking on everything,” says Quincy.
Last year, he and two of his neighborhood friends–all freshly graduated and returned from college–founded The Door Campaign, intending to bring healthy food choices, hands-on science lessons, and good adult role models to their home community. How? By building an aquaponics studio where tilapia and a variety of edible plants grow together, providing food for each other, and a source of fresh fish and vegetables for local residents and restaurants.
This fall, with a full on studio out of reach, Quincy brought the idea to Perry Traditional Academy, where he and his high school science teacher have succeeded in using a 20 gallon aquarium full of goldfish and basil to teach STEM curriculum to a classroom full of biotech students.
Learn more about Quincy’s plans from this recent feature in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Photo of Quincy and his aquarium by John Heller for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette