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Food and Finance High School in Partnership with Cornell University Cooperative Extension:

The latest in science technology, sustainability and urban food production. 

The Cornell University labs located at Food and Finance High School are not your typical school labs.  They are real-time, applied science and research laboratories and are producing fresh, clean food.

The following state-of-the-art cutting-edge technologies for the production of cleaner and safer foods were invented and further developed by Philson A.A Warner, an applied scientist at Cornell University Coop Ext, NYC, who is the Founding Director of the CUCE, NYC Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Labs which are located at the Food and Finance High School in NYC.


Through unique BHS aquaculture systems developed by renowned Cornell University scientist Philson Warner, thousands of fish are raised in the quickest, freshest and cleanest manner possible.  These systems involve the continual re-circulating and reconditioning of water, feeding of the fish and draining of waste out of the systems. Bacteria is monitored continuously, ensuring that the fish are growing in the purest water.

Currently, over 10,000 tilapia and other species are being raised in the lab.  These fish are being  used in the school’s culinary arts program, as part of the Office of School Food’s efforts to make cafeteria food healthier, at school/student-catered events, donated to hunger relief organizations, distributed at greenmarkets, and sold to local business establishments.


Through the NDFT Hydroponics systems, fresh produce is grown quickly, freshly and cleanly.  Nutrient rich water is circulated through tubes, producing 9 types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage (such as Bok choi, Joi choi, Feng choi, etc.), and a variety of herbs including sweet basil, oregano, thyme and parsley.

Fresh produce is distributed to students, used in the school’s culinary arts program, and will be donated to hunger relief organizations, distributed at greenmarkets and sold to local businesses.


This combined system brings together the BHS Aquaculture and NDFT Hydroponics Technologies  in a mutually symbiotic and sustainable system.  The nutrient water from the fish sustains the plants, while the plants clean the water for the fish.  This system is energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and produces large amounts of food relative to the physical space it occupies.

This system, in a greenhouse setting, is planned for the roof.  Fish and produce, now produced faster and in more volume, will be distributed through the mechanisms described above.


The three systems described above have become core to Food and Finance High School.  Student interns spend 4 – 8 hours per week working in the aquaculture and hydroponics labs.  Here, they put on lab coats and slip out of their role of students, into the role of lab technicians.  In addition, students are able to do independent studies in chemistry and other sciences by working intensely with Professor Warner in the labs.

Hydroponics have become part of our core science curriculum. Hydroponics units are located in both 9th and 10th grade science classrooms, and the 40-unit lab Hydroponic Learning Model (HLM) curriculum, developed by Philson A. A. Warner, is used to teach students the Living Environment experientially and to enable them to meet their NY State Regents requirements.

The school’s culinary department similarly is weaving the food produced in our labs into its curriculum, including filleting and cooking fish. 

As Food and Finance High School expands its existing student-catering program and develops additional student businesses and distribution networks, the food produced in the lab will become key. Whether preparing ready-made dinners and selling them in our own retail space, working with local restaurants, or donating to hunger relief efforts, the labs will make an enormous contribution to the life, health and growth of the school and community at large.