QUEENS (PIX11) — Young people in one Queens community are getting a special hands-on after-school lesson in farming at the first hydroponic farm inside a New York City Housing Authority community center. 

The Astoria Houses has a very special urban farming program for elementary and middle school students. A room inside the NYCHA community center has been converted into a place where children can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Blessing Byrd, 9, said she looks forward to checking in on the progress of all the seeds she has planted.

The new state-of-the-art lab was built in December thanks to nonprofit HANAC, the NY Power Authority and nonprofit NY Sun Works. There are 18 hydroponic labs like this one across New York City, but this is the first one of its kind in a NYCHA community center.

A hydroponic lab is a form of gardening that uses no soil. Instead, plants grow in water and nutrients.

Claudia Coger, an 87-year-old longtime resident and community activist, said she was thrilled to see children learning about their environment and sustainability. The kids are even teaching her a few things. 

If you want to learn more about programs like this one, click here. If you want to start a program like this one in your neighborhood, e-mail Environmental.justice@nypa.gov.