From the Queens Chronicle:
Nestled on a four-acre site near Queens College and the bustling Long Island Expressway is a farm with 150 chickens, numerous rabbits, two goats, assorted peacocks and pheasants and even four alpacas.
The bucolic scene is part of John Bowne High School’s agriculture program that also includes a greenhouse, orchard and field crops. The popular program — the only agriculture department in the city school system — attracts 600 students, known as Aggies, with 80 percent of them going on to college and 50 percent majoring in agriculture, according to Steve Perry, assistant principal for agriculture.
Bowne’s chickens are kept in a warm building away from the roosters. “They are not stressed and lay about 100 eggs a day,” Perry said. “Students dispense feed for them and collect the eggs. There is quite a demand for them at the school store where they sell for $2 a dozen year-round.”
When school is in session, the store is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sells seasonal items such as vegetables in the warm weather and poinsettias, holiday wreaths and flower arrangements in the winter. During the summer, students set up a vegetable stand outside the school at 63-25 Main St. in Flushing.
The profits from all produce, eggs and products raised at Bowne go back into the agriculture program for feed, fertilizer and seed.
“We find that students gain a lot of confidence by working with the animals and for many it gives them a skill,” Perry said. “We become the center of the kids’ community. They are very active in pursuit of their careers.”
Aggies are expected to get 300 hours of work experience either at a pet shop, zoo, veterinarian’s office or through a summer placement program on an upstate farm.