UNITY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Before it became a school with a focus on environmental professions, Unity College was a chicken hatchery known as Constable Farm. Now, chickens are making a comeback on campus, being bred to teach lessons and provide sustenance for the less fortunate.
"We have chicken heritage here, for sure," exclaimed Sara Trunzo, coordinator of the college's farm and food projects. "Because of our history, because of our connection to hunger relief in this community, and our interest in learning about more sustainable agricultural methods, we thought, let's grow some chickens for the food pantry and do it on our campus in a way that a lot of students are involved with."
The lessons being learned extend far beyond the field of farming.
"Really, we are asking our students to think critically about systems and what the impacts are on people, profit and planet," she explained.
Students have written grants to pay for the chickens and their coops, worked to use their limited funds to budget for expenditures and planned the project from designing and building their coops to purchasing the chicks.
Now that the birds are growing and gaining weight, they soon will be shipped off to the slaughter house and their meat will be donated to local food pantries to help those in need.
"It is a very compelling case for our students to think about, not only learning how to grow meat sustainably, but to get it to people who are really our neighbors who don't have access to healthy, lean meats," said Trunzo.
The school also grows vegetables that they donate to local food pantries.
Now students are already focusing on adding more animals to the school's agriculture program, to gain more hands-on experience and help provide larger animals for students studying to care for animals as part of their careers in the future.