Equipment which was formally used in various criminal drug operations is set to be used by schools for growing organic food.
Devon and Cornwall Police, in partnership with Bespoke Engaging Education Services (BEES), will be training school staff in the use of this drug equipment so it can be used by children in super-efficient food growing projects.
Hydroponics is the method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions.
It is a technique sometimes employed in the production of cannabis, and in such cases, when the systems are seized by police they have to be destroyed at public expense.
Following discussions between BEES UK and police representatives, a new project has been launched to safely recycle the equipment for schools, creating aquaponics systems, where the vital nutrients are provided by resident fish through their waste products.
Superintendent Craig Downham, responsible for local policing and partnerships in Plymouth, said: “Devon and Cornwall Police prefer not to send items, which still have a useful purpose, to landfill.
‘Specialist waste, such as that found in hydroponic equipment, costs us a considerable amount of money to dispose of. So, this is a win-win situation, putting the equipment to good use and saving public money.
‘We have good working relationships with many charities donating items such as bikes, clothing, foodstuffs and saleable goods.”
Nathan Potts, Director of BEES UK said: “The long-term dream is to see every school engaging in food growing initiatives, helping promote healthier lifestyles and nutrition awareness.
‘We’re taking equipment that has been used in the commission of illegal drugs production and repurposing it for positive educational and, potentially, nutritional benefit. It is low maintenance for the schools and the pupils have the added engagement of being able to study the fish.
‘The project is a natural extension of BEES’ work and has the potential to be rolled out to other areas of the country and to a wide range of institutions.”