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Chickens in Chicago

When the City Council considered an ordinance banning chickens from the city late last year, the folks at the Angelic Organics Learning Center in Woodlawn e-mailed fellow urban agriculture supporters. The ordinance was tabled, but the center heard back from several Chicago chicken owners and many others who were interested in learning more.

It’s illegal to slaughter chickens (or any animal) at your home in Chicago, but it’s legal to raise them for pets — or for eggs, said Martha Boyd of Angelic Organic’s urban initiative.

People are interested not just to save on the rising price of eggs, she said. It’s also knowing the eggs you eat didn’t come from chickens fed antibiotics in closely confined factory farms.

Depending on breed, most hens lay an egg a day or so during the couple of years when they are laying, Boyd said. “And chickens make great pets,” she said — “and their waste makes great fertilizer for your garden.”

This Saturday, Angelic Organics will offer its first workshop on basic backyard chicken care for Chicago residents (Wellington Avenue Church, 615 W. Wellington, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Chicken farmers from Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm in Ottawa, Illinois, and Chicago chicken owners will discuss chicken raising basics, as well as relevant city regulations. “The idea is to teach good practices so you avoid problems with your neighbors or with the city,” Boyd said.

In-town chicken keepers have been invited to bring photos, coop designs, stories, and perhaps a favorite bird.

Registration for the workshop is full, and a waiting list is growing for the next workshop, which Boyd expects will be held next spring. She says that in Portland and Madison, city chicken boosters hold tours of coops (in Portland it’s actually called “Tour de Coop”). “I can see that happening here in no time at all,” she said.

The urban outreach project of a ten-year-old community-supported organic farm near Rockford, Angelic Organics Learning Center works with community partners on urban gardens in areas where fresh food is hard to find.

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Category: animals, food, urban agriculture

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