St Mary's Catholic College year 10 student Kayla Jones with fellow students and teacher Jackson Whitney, Bonny RIddle, Ryan Clark, Ky Crethar, Michael Zervos, Sophie Flatley were awarded the finalist position in the Green Innovation Awards with their idea to use cricket flower to feed the masses.
St Mary's Catholic College year 10 student Kayla Jones with fellow students and teacher Jackson Whitney, Bonny RIddle, Ryan Clark, Ky Crethar, Michael Zervos, Sophie Flatley were awarded the finalist position in the Green Innovation Awards with their idea to use cricket flower to feed the masses. Marc Stapelberg

Fancy a brownie made from crickets?

WHILE the humble cricket is often hung on the end of a fishing hook as bait, most of us may not have considered adding the crunchy critters to our baking.

But that's exactly what students from St Mary's College in Casino did when they presented their entry for the 2019 Green Innovation Awards at Trinity Catholic College in Lismore last Thursday.

Speaking before a panel of expert judges, the students outlined their case for breeding crickets as a more sustainable food source than livestock, which take a heavy toll on the environment, particularly in times of drought.

The judges were then offered chocolate brownies made using ground crickets, which were from the already established Byron Bay business, Grilo.

The reaction was surprisingly positive, with 89 per cent of the judges giving them a thumbs up for taste.

"Crickets are full of healthy nutrients and protein, and can be made into a variety of food products," St Mary's student Ryan Clark said.

Science teacher Bonny Riddle said the idea to enter crickets as a sustainable food source into the awards came about when one of the year 10 students brought up people eating crickets in class.

"We got really interested in that so we started looking at them, then the awards came up and we thought it was a great idea to enter," Ms Riddle said.

"Farming insects as a sustainable food source will be a way of the future... based on protein per weight basis it's pretty close to beef, but it takes much less water, feed and Co2 emissions are really low in comparison making it more efficient and sustainable."

Ms Riddle said the students designed a prototype called the nest breeding system in a 3D printing program, so it could be printed using the 3D printer.

"The Prototype was called the nest - which was a few levels starting with the baby crickets - as they get older the floor of it flips and they go down a level until they reach breeding age," she said.

"Then they are taken out and some of them are bred and some are harvested.

"The way they process them is they put them in a commercial ovens, roast them and they are ground up into flour.

"The kids really enjoyed it."

St Mary's College was one of 10 schools from across the Northern Rivers who were selected as finalists for the Green Innovation Awards, which encourage students to design innovative and sustainable solutions for greener living.

The winner of the primary school category was Wyrallah Road Public School for their school bubbler management system, which reduces water waste by reusing up to 230 litres of excess water on their school gardens each day.

St John's College, Woodlawn, won the High School category for their vision of a circular textile economy that aims to reduce clothing waste - and the environmental cost of producing it - by recycling used clothing into items such as hair scrunchies.

Awards founder Dr Bridie Cullinane said the standard of entries was outstanding and reflected a strong passion for protecting our environment.

"The opportunity to present their ideas before key stakeholders in the community was really powerful because it made those students feel that their concerns for the environment are being heard and that there is support for the solutions that they provide," said Dr Cullinane.

The annual Green Innovation Awards attract significant interest from schools, councils and environmental groups across the Northern Rivers as well as from the NSW State Government, which contributed $10,000 in funding.

In a letter presented at the Awards ceremony last Thursday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian commended those students who had entered the competition for creating awareness and innovative solutions to care for our natural assets.

"Your achievement is a credit to you and your teachers, and your ideas have the potential to affect real change," wrote Berejiklian.  

The future of our environment is looking a lot brighter, based on the ideas put forward for this year's Green Innovation Awards.

Entries for the 2019 Awards were double that of the previous year, and organisers hope to see 50 percent more schools involved for 2020.

The Awards encourage students to develop a passion for the environment by asking them to invent, develop, and present solutions for greener living.

In Lismore on May 30, ten finalists presented their ideas before a panel of judges from the Dorroughby Environment Centre, Rous County Council, Southern Cross University, and the Catholic Schools Office. 

The 2019 Green Innovation Award winners were:

Primary School: Wyrallah Road Public School (School Bubbler Management System)

High School: St John's College, Woodlawn (Textile Circular Economy)

Encouragement Award: Tregeagle Public School (Lunch Box Solutions)  



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