Urban Chic(ks)

May 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm 7 comments

Who knew there were more than 150 chickens pecking at pests and popping out tasty eggs in respectable backyards all over Raleigh,

Urban Farmers Will and Jeana (Credit: Julie Leonard, News and Observer)

Urban Farmers Will and Jeana (Credit: Juli Leonard, News and Observer)

including trendy Five Points, Cameron Park, Historic Oakwood and Boylan Heights? And that’s just a rough count of the two dozen hen houses — all perfectly legal — on the annual Tour d’Coop Hen-Side the Beltline held Saturday. (No doubt there are hundreds more across the Triangle where city councils have given the nod to urban chicks in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, Wake Forest and Pittsboro.)

I had a blast peeking and poking at five diverse Raleigh roosts ranging from the palacial to the practical. My grand prize goes to Will Hooker and Jeana Myers for turning their modest 0.18 acre backyard near Central Prison into a permaculture paradise with intensive vegetable, herb and flower beds, fruit trees, a cedar post gazebo and clay bread oven tucked in a hand-painted chicken-bust. Their eight “girls” have the run of the back of the lot, featuring a chicken “tractor” and a colorful hand-built coop where rain runs off the slanted roof into a rain barrel providing water for thirsty hens. And Japanese beetles don’t stand a chance with these gals. Will says he and Jeana are raising about 20 percent of their household food from their urban “farm” and expect to increase that yield when their fruit trees begin bearing more.

High honorable mention goes to Kristen Reberg-Horton, a landscape designer, whose delightful yard includes garden beds that incorporate old wicker chairs, a bathtub “pond”, hand-painted birdhouses and a home-built vine-covered pen and coop featuring a colorful mural she created to entertain her five hens. She provided helpful information about the modest time and money involved in backyard poultry raising (5 minutes a day to feed the ladies, a few minutes a month to clean the coop and as little as $50 to build their roost from recycled lumber, in exchange for food, compost, insect control and endless entertainment).

Chicken varieties on display across Raleigh include: Araucanas/Ameraucanas, Rhode Island Reds, Black and Red Stars, Delawares, barred Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, blue Cochins, Black Australorps, Wyandottes and more.

We tend to take our fowls for granted here in rural Chatham County — with mega hen houses and free-rangers alike — but apparently city dwellers all over the US are now raising hens, too.  Chicks are chic and legal now in Madison, Albuquerque, Bloomington, Portland, Chicago and even New York Cit and BackYardChickens.com claims more than 20,000 members.

Entry filed under: Events, Sustainable Food.

Rooting for the underdogs Presto Pesto

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. 2009 Raleigh Tour d’Coop « Eating in Raleigh, NC  |  May 17, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    […] Grub reports enjoying the tour in Urban Chic(ks) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Raleigh Is Greater than Charlotte… at Building […]

  • 2. Liane  |  May 20, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Chickens are all the rage these days and I’m glad to see them proliferating in urban gardens.

    Just a word in favor of ducks. They don’t get as cold or as wet, they don’t have as much trouble with parasites. They convert feed more efficiently than chickens, lay larger richer eggs. The drakes aren’t a problem if you don’t have too many.

    There are breeds of ducks that lay as many eggs as any breed of chickens.

    And they are equally entertaining. Maybe more. I personally think they’re cuter.

    When I set up my permaculture system, I plan to use ducks instead of chickens. I’ve had them before, in Chatham County, and really liked them.

    You don’t need a pond, just water deep enough for them to dunk their heads in it. They enjoy swimming, but they don’t need to do it.

    The American Minor Breeds Conservancy can advise you on breeds. I had Magpies and Welsh Harlequins.


    • 3. sustainablegrub  |  May 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      Now there’s an idea. I have ducks (geese really) “visiting” my pond part of the year, hmm if I can just figure out where they’re stashing their eggs…..it might make all the duck “waste” on our “beach” worth it.

  • 4. Laurie Mettam  |  June 16, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    THANKS for the interesting and informative website on local food. I live in Chatham Co. and love to garden. Local food = health (physical, mental, environmental, spiritual) in my book.

    • 5. sustainablegrub  |  June 17, 2009 at 12:17 pm

      Thank YOU Laurie.

  • 6. Urban Chicks II « sustainable grub  |  January 11, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    […] guess they haven’t heard about the annual Tour d’Coop (see Urban Chicks I) in Raleigh, where its chic to raise chicks.  And maybe nobody told them that Durham, Chapel Hill, […]

  • […] click here to see how much fun I had last year on the […]


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