Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Urban Agriculture’ Category

Personal Food Production

Check out the diagram below from a report entitled, Tiers of the Food System: A New Way of Thinking About Local and Regional Food. Some very smart researchers over at the UW Madison Center For Integrated Agricultural Systems generated the report, which outlines the framework of our modern American food system.

The report depicts our food system as concentric circles of food production and consumption, with the vast majority of supply being produced at a distant outer ring, far removed from most Americans’ immediate circle of reference and influence.

Tiers of the Food System UW Madison Center For Integrated Agricultural Systems

From farmers’ markets to supermarkets, there is a spectrum of relationships between consumers and those that grow, process, distribute and market food. The burgeoning local food trend has caused many people to seek food from—and personal contact with—local farmers as a way to connect with the food they eat.

But it’s the bullseye  of the Personal Production of Food, aka (Tier 0), that acknowledges the growing number of people who grow, hunt or process at least some of their own food that I want to point out. This tier includes backyard and community gardens, home food preservation, and subsistence farming, hunting, gathering, fishing and backyard chickens!

Tier 0, the bullseye,  is the tier we’re trying to facilitate and empower here at Eggzy.


City Chickens Campaign Against Hunger

Last week, Eggzy was a proud participant in one of Just Food’s City Chicken Projects. Mark joined Greg and Justin from Just Food and a team from NYC’s City Chicken Meetup Group to build an urban chicken coop in the backyard garden of the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger in Brooklyn.

Just Food is a non-profit organization that connects communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible throughout the Greater New York City area.

The City Chicken Project works with local chicken keepers to create model projects from which residents can learn how to keep happy, healthy, and productive chickens in an urban environment.

Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency food and other social services to residents in central Brooklyn. They plan to distribute the eggs from their City Chicken Project to many of the 9,000+ Brooklyn residents who receive groceries through the pantry each month.

Finishing the roof and front door

 Photos by Mark Thompson

The Zero Waste Chicken

Like many first time flock owners, our primary motivation for starting a flock of our own was the desire for fresh, delicious eggs from a trusted source – ourselves. It didn’t take long to realize that there were many other benefits to keeping a flock of chickens, benefits that are essential to the well being of our backyard ecosystem.

In an article written for McMurray hatchery, author and chicken expert Patricia Foreman lists why chickens are considered by many as an “essential part of urban agriculture that helps folks achieve some degree of self-sufficiency”.

Foreman encourages flock owners to think ‘outside the coop’ and argues for the many benefits of pasture raised birds. She goes on to list and explain more than half-a-dozen different, but inter-related “chicken skill sets’, things like pest and weed control, bio-mass waste management and fertilizer creation and distribution.

This closed loop system of inputs and outputs is so efficient and beneficial, with little to no waste whatsoever, that Mother Nature herself must have designed it.

One standard chicken eats about 8 pounds of food “waste” a month. A few hundred households keeping micro-flocks of laying hens can divert tons of yard and food biomass “waste” from trash collection saving municipalities millions … ~ City Chicks

So above and beyond the amazing fact that chicken eggs are a healthy source of protein (which they can produce over and over again), there are many other less celebrated benefits that those birds bring to the table (ahem). All of which makes it clear that the true value of your flock can’t simply be calculated by the price of the eggs they produce.

And even with the long list of practical skills enumerated, there are other simpler reasons to keep those birds near and dear, it’s because we like them. They are often beautiful creatures, and entertaining to watch as well as listen to. When all is said and done, they simply make great pets.

For more information about living sustainably – with or without chickens – take a look at some of these resources:


Featured Flock Owner: Flyaway Farm

Eggzy was formally introduced to California flock owners this winter after a mention in Sunset magazine. That article brought us dozens of new users and flock owners, all of whom helped to fuel Eggzy’s activity over the winter months. In celebration of those newer users, this month’s featured member is Sarah from Berkeley California — where she keeps a plucky flock of 13 hens in her backyard!

Eggzy: What is the name of your Eggzy egg stand?

Flyaway Farms: It’s called Flyaway Farm. The name is a bit grandiose for the 20×20 run and coop I have in my backyard, but I dream of it being more. I chose the name Flyaway Farm because my first flock of hens had a habit of jumping over our fence into our neighbor’s yard. We kept building it higher, they kept finding new ways to jump it. I’d come home to find them walking down the sidewalk or scratching up garden beds down the street. We finally got our fences high enough.

I’m humbled and delighted to have met people who take their food as seriously as I do. I have customers who plan their Saturday morning around coming to my house to say hi to the hens and pick up their eggs. —

Eggzy: Why do you use Eggzy?

Flyaway Farms: I started using Eggzy to get connected with people looking for good eggs. I’ve come to enjoy the production management tools as well

Eggzy: Where are you located?

Flyaway Farms: Berkeley, CA, 94703. I live in a very dense urban neighborhood. Our back yard is bordered by several neighbors, but fortunately all of them seem to like the sound of hens chattering in the morning.

Eggzy: Tell us something about yourself.

Flyaway Farm: My husband and I have a five month old son. I was worried that keeping chickens would lose its allure when I had a baby, but it’s been the opposite…chickens seem easy compared to a newborn! I also work full time for a large advertising agency, which is not as unlike mucking around with a flock of hens as you might expect.

Eggzy: How long have you been keeping chickens?

Flyaway Farms: For about three and a half years. Over that time, I’ve raised five generations of hens. Many of the “girls” from the first flock are still alive and well.

Eggzy: Why do you keep chickens?

Flyaway Farms: I keep chickens for their eggs. I’ve always been fascinated with food production, and hens strike me as the perfect food producer. Unlike an animal raised for meat, a hen produces again and again. And unlike a plant, she’s entertaining! And don’t get me started on the versatility of eggs…they are one of nature’s perfect foods.

Eggzy: How many birds to you have?

Flyaway Farms: I have 13 adult hens and 10 young pullets who should start laying in June

Eggzy: What do you feed your birds? Organic? Conventional? Table scraps?

Flyaway Farms: Organic feed pellets supplemented with scratch, table scraps, and occasional donations of greens from our local grocery store.

Eggzy: How do you raise your birds, are they pastured?

Flyaway Farms: With a couple of exceptions, I have purchased my hens from Ideal Poultry in Texas. They are sent in a box via the US postal service and arrive as 2-day old chicks. The post office thinks its hilarious. Remarkably, all have arrived in good health and have gone on to be wonderful layers and pets. After a few weeks in the garage in an enclosure under a heat lamp, I move them outdoors with the adult hens. Our hens roam freely in a 20×20 fenced yard under a redwood tree. They ate all of the grass and weeds long ago, so they spend most of their day hunting for bugs, scratching in the soil, or preening on the many branch perches.

Eggzy: Do you have a favorite breed?

Flyaway Farms: My two Barred Plymouth Rocks have been the friendliest. They have always been very people-oriented and like being held by visitors. I also love our Americaunas for the beautiful green eggs they lay.

Eggzy: Do you name your chickens?

Flyaway Farms: I did at first, but I gave up long ago. They never came when I called them anyway!

Eggzy: Do you sell your eggs?

Flyaway Farms: Yes, for $6/dozen. Thanks to Eggzy and word of mouth, demand for my eggs far outpaces my supply.

Eggzy: Do you cull birds from your flock?

Flyaway Farms: Berkeley has a town ordinance against roosters — something I respect, since I want to stay in the good graces of my neighbors. Luckily, I’ve had only one wrongly-sexed chicken in all the birds that I’ve raised. At 16 weeks, “she” revealed herself to be a “he” and started crowing. After fortifying ourselves with numerous tutorials and many deep breaths, my husband and I went through the act of slaughtering and butchering that rooster. It was an intense and surprisingly intimate experience to raise and then kill an animal in your charge, and not something I take lightly. Additionally, I had a couple of very loud hens early on that I found other homes for. I don’t have any plans to cull for any other reason, but I know that it’s something every responsible flock owner needs to be prepared to do in case of flock sickness, injury, or old age.

Eggzy: Do you have any advice, tips or insights you would like to share?

Flyaway Farms: For prospective flock owners, know this: there’s a steep learning curve for keeping chickens, but it gets easier over time. Hens anchor you to the rhythm of each day (up at dawn, in at dusk) and of each season (prolific, boastful layers when the days are long, molting and quiet in the fall and winter). Once you’ve eaten an egg from a hen you know, no egg will ever taste as good. But, keeping animals comes with a tremendous responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being, and one clever predatory raccoon can undo all your good intentions as easily as it can open a latch. If you love the idea of fresh local eggs but don’t want to commit to a flock, find someone who already has hens and strike a deal with them. That’s what eggzy is all about. I’m humbled and delighted to have met people who take their food as seriously as I do. I have customers who plan their Saturday morning around coming to my house to say hi to the hens and pick up their eggs. It’s exciting to be on the production end of such a vibrant and sincere food community.