City Chickens Needs Your Help Now to Build Three New Community Coops

The City Chickens Project at work. Photo courtesy Just Food.

For the growing numbers of Brooklynites that want their very own backyard coop, last week we introduced you the hen-houses made locally by Noah Leff. But if you’re willing to share, there are community coops around the borough, too.

Last fall one our very first weekly segments for NY1 introduced viewers to Hattie Carthan community garden in Bed-Stuy, where Just Food City Farms Program Manager Owen Taylor (himself a Brooklynite) was helping a few urban farmers install their second chicken coop.

Just Food is a non-profit working to solve issues of food security  in the city — that means they want not just to make sure every community has access to enough food, but that that food be high-quality, nutrient-rich, fresh food. To that end they help set up and run CSAs in city neighborhoods, help with urban gardening and farming projects, work to get local produce into soup kitchens and the like, teach community cooking classes, and help train city folks how to keep chickens, which is why a New York City organization would keep a guy trained in livestock like Taylor on the payroll.

Taylor is a key part of Just Food’s City Chicken Project, which currently helps nearly a dozen local community and school gardens like Hattie Carthan raise birds in their communal backyards, and also provides information for home birders, too. This year they hope, in addition to running their regular city chicken meet-up groups and informational sessions, to provide chickens, construction materials and hands-on assistance building and maintaining urban poultry palaces for three new community coops, one in Brooklyn, one in the South Bronx, and one in Harlem.

City Chickens was originally funded by Heifer International (which also supports Added Value farm in Red Hook) but this year Just Food is on their own and needs to raise the $9,926 they’ve estimated it’ll cost to create the coops. (Which will pay off not just in eggs and life lessons on caring for animals, but for local community gardens that can sell a dozen for $4, as a Brooklyn farmer noted in our NY1 piece last year).

To do that they’re running a Kickstarter fundraiser campaign until June 27th. (Executive Director Jacquie Berger says that of today, they’ve only got around $1,800 less to raise, so donate now to make sure their funding goes through.)

If you pledge more than $15, you’ll score an invite to a beer and local food-tasting event they’re calling Kegs and Kluckers at Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg on July 6th, where you’ll get a chance to commingle with coop-keepers old and new and drink plenty of craft beer, in honor of July’s Good Beer Month. It’s also a chance for the Brewery and the bird-lovers to finally start up the spent brewing grain-as-chicken-feed project both have been talking about for years. We’re looking forward to the eggs already.

Tickets for the event will go on-sale after the campaign is over, and their proceeds will also support City Chickens, but why not give an extra bang for your buck right now?

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.