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With Handley's Outdoor Education Center (OEC), about 25 students arrive every hour, five times a day for a class in which none of them appears particularly suited. What they accomplish over the next 50 minutes, what they will learn during the next semester, or years, is agricultural acumen that will perhaps last them a lifetime. The OEC hosts a 60-by-40-foot greenhouse that is filled with at least 500 hanging ferns, and lots of geraniums, petunias and flowering baskets. Alongside the greenhouse are three catfish ponds and two gardens where students plant corn, tomatoes, squash, beans, collards and turnip greens.

There are also fruit trees, including 30-40 blueberry bushes, growing on the off-campus campus. Any plants that aren't taken off the Handley High farm are taken to the Roanoke ACE store or a local flea market, where students keep up with sales, inventory and restocking. Handley OEC students feed and water 10 chickens, then collect and sell their eggs for $3 a dozen, far below grocery store prices.

There are 14 beehive boxes on campus, another 10 off. Students man the hives, taking out the combs and using top-of-the-line Maxant industrial beekeeping equipment to fill case after case of 32-ounce Pur bottles with pure honey.