Thursday, January 16, 2014

Marra Farm Chicken Cooperative

Last summer we introduced 17 teenage chickens (pullets) to their new home at Marra Farm as part of the Marra Farm Chicken Cooperative (MFCC)!

This was a monumental step towards the dream of a community-led chicken cooperative at Marra Farm. Though Lettuce Link provided staffing and support for the initial phases of the project, the long-term vision, however, has always been to see the chicken co-op become self-sustaining and self-governed by South Park community members.

Over the past few months, the Marra Farm Chicken Cooperative has narrowed down to a core group of 13 members who share the responsibilities of morning and evening care for the brood of hens. With the help of Lettuce Link’s Marra Farm Coordinator, Kyong Soh, and AmeriCorps member Amanda Reeves, the cooperative has developed systems for accountability, communication, and collecting dues, ensuring that they properly care for the chickens and fairly share the work (and benefits).

Cooperative members have committed to daily care of the chickens, cleaning the coop on a regular basis, and regularly communicating with each other. We commend the ways that the members have worked together across linguistic, cultural, and relational differences!

To maximize the health of the chickens, the land, and the eggs, the group decided to feed the ladies organic feed, greens, and other plant scraps. With an abundance of fresh greens at Marra Farm—including scraps from Lettuce Link’s Giving Garden, the brood has a diverse array of healthy greens to munch on alongside the store-bought feed. The hens get quite excited when presented with some scrumptious chard or bites of winter squash.

Given the timing of the project, the hens approached egg-laying age as winter approached and egg production dramatically tapered off. However, in late October co-op members collected the first few eggs, allowing the group to see their commitment pay off! It’s a nice taste of what the springtime will bring.

We welcome you to visit the chickens at Marra Farm. Community neighbors and visitors alike have enjoyed watching the chickens and seeing urban farming on a whole different level. The chickens also provide an opportunity to educate visitors about the importance of ethical and healthy animal care, and the amazing possibilities that emerge with community collaboration. Next time you come to Marra Farm, please walk around and say “hello” to the Marra Farm chickens!

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