Today, Farm Manager Bee Ayer, and our amazing chicken apprentices toured chicken coops across Brooklyn. We visited a variety of set ups and arrangements in an effort to learn about the diverse ways people are keeping hens in the city. From found to fancy we saw coops that were designed by professional architects to coops that cost only $15 and used all found materials. The setups varied in care as well, from chickens kept by 2 ladies, to chickens cared for by a collective of 16, to hens in a community garden with a chicken committee.
We started our day at the Imani Garden, home to our chicken operation and designer coop (lovingly refered to as fort hen by some), and favorite spot for Sunday morning coffee. Our first stop was a backyard coop at 1399 pacific. We checked out the building wide chicken calendar, and saw it in action, just as we were seeing who was signed up for todays chicken tours, the man on duty showed up to give us a quick tour. From there we made a quick stop at Walt L. Shumel, where a community of gardeners have been raising hens since 2008.
North we ventured to Fort Quincy in Bed Stuy, (a collective house and home to Bed Stuy Farm Share), that just finished a beutaful coop. Their coop, using all found materials (even the hinges were scavenged from an old door on the street) was designed around a scavenged sky light, providing their little ones lots light in a small backyards. Before they built their coop, they sheet mulched their backyard 2 feet, (with leaves, manure from the black cowboys, food scraps from farmers markets, woodships, baggs of leaves and cardboard!) to protect the birds from the contaminated soil, and the free ranging birds seemed pretty thrilled about it.
Our next stop was the amazing Hattie Carthan Community Garden (and market info here), the latest coop built by Just Foods City Chickens program. Their coop is simple yet brilliant, with a rain water collection off the roof and multiple windows for ventilation. It fits perfectly with the dynamic garden, that producers a ridulous amount of food, had tons of events, and amazing youth programs. Hattie Carthan seems to be ever expanding, with a new back area with pizza over, children's garden and new murals.
At another backyard, the abode of Megan Paskas's (of brooklyn homesteader) we saw how chickens can fit into a well used space, without taking over. Megan's coop was made from an old dog house, modeled after the "eglu". It was bliss seeing her birds walk around the grassy backyard, (it was almost too idealic to be true) and the health and good nature of her birds proove how happy city birds can be when taken good care of.
Further up, we met the new ladies of Rooftop Farm. They were out working and relaxing in their chicken tractor/run that fits perfectly over one of the farm beds. The coop was designed by students at the Francis Perkins Academy in conjunction with farmer Annie Novak. Rooftop has a variety of heritage birds from Liberty View Farms, that are kept for their assistance in prepping veggie beds with their fertilizer and tallons as much for the eggs.
Our last stop was at sixpoint brewery, where Cathy Erway was hosting a potluck to celebrate the launch of her new blog..... A great way to end our day, with amazing dishes made by many local foodies with local ingrediants and some cold beer from sixpoint. Cathy keeping chickens along with her new rooftop garden. Her birds, also from Farmer Billiam, are fed the same spent grain from brewing as our ladies and live in a A frame coop designed by the brewers themselves.
It was a long, but enjoyable day. Thanks to everyone who welcomed us into your homes, gardens and farms.
Want to see some of these sites and more?
Join Just Food for the second annual Chicken Bike Tour on July 10th.