Life

Raising Chickens in the City

Podcast: 'Deconstructing Dinner' visits backyard poultry farmers in Nelson.

By Jon Steinman, 1 Sep 2008, TheTyee.ca

Deconstructing Dinner

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[Editor's note: This is a summary of a podcast you can download or listen to from this page.]

Many forms of urban agriculture have existed for thousands of years.

As practical and environmentally responsible as growing food within a city can be, the art of gardening has seemingly disappeared in many urban settings. As current farming practices are proving to be unsustainable in the long term, urban agriculture is looked upon by many as being part of a critical shift that needs to take place if we are to ensure a level of food security in the near and distant future.

Since March 2008, the Farming in the City series has been incorporating a focus on urban backyard chickens.

Raising poultry within an urban setting provides eggs, fertilizer, garden help and meat with a minimal environmental footprint. Having suffered decades of disconnection from our food, bringing the farm (and in this case animals) into the city, can provide a much-needed dose of agriculture and food awareness. It's this very disconnection that has allowed for the appalling conditions now found in factory egg and chicken barns.

Since part one of the series introduced a backyard chickener defying a municipal bylaw, a Nelson couple has also joined the ranks of Christoph Martens. Not long after Steve and Hazel took up urban backyard chickening themselves, they sought the experience of Martens to teach them the art of slaughtering. Host Jon Steinman returned to Martens's home to record the evening meal!

And lending his voice once again to the series is Bucky Buckaw and his Backyard Chicken Broadcast. The broadcast is produced in Boise, Idaho, at Radio Boise, where Bucky hosts weekly segments on backyard chickening. His experience and knowledge can help guide any urbanite wishing to set up backyard chickens. On this third episode of the series, we listen in on three Bucky segments on the topic of eggs.

Guests/voices

Christoph Martens, backyard chicken farmer (Nelson, B.C.) -- Christoph has spent the last three years working towards greater self-sufficiency. He grows food year-round on his small city property, and discovered that chickens are, among other benefits, an ideal pest management tool. He accomodates chickens, ducks and rabbits. Christoph believes the long-standing notion that city life should be separated from farming has "run it's course" and it's time to move on from this "pseudo-royalty."

Steve and Hazel, backyard chicken farmers (Nelson, B.C.) -- Steve and Hazel are rookie backyard chicken enthusiasts who now house chickens within a city that does not allow them.

Bucky Buckaw, host, Bucky Buckaw's Backyard Chicken Broadcast (Boise, Idaho) -- Bucky Buckaw gives advice on raising backyard chickens as just one example of how a locally based economy can work. In this segment, he informs listeners about the downside of factory farming and what kinds of toxic chemicals you can expect to find in the resultant livestock. He promotes organic gardening and composting, and supporting local farmers. He shares fascinating chicken lore from the millennia that will fascinate even those with no interest in birds.

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