Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A pat on the back for local free range eggs

The local chicken movement received a very welcome "pat on the back" last night, in the form of a $500 award for its commitment to sustainability in Windsor and Essex County.

The City's Windsor-Essex County Environment Committee, or WECEC, awarded grants to four organizations that they felt best deserved this recognition for their efforts in promoting the environment and the local community.  There were 27 applications in total, and the competition was tough!

Our presentation focused on the Windsor Coop Co-op's egg collective.  If you've been following this blog, you'll know that we never stopped working towards our goal of overturning Windsor's bylaw that allows residents to own 2 dogs, 4 cats, 80 pigeons, but no chickens.

Rather than turning to covert backyard poultry raising, we started a collective outside the city limits, where we could share both the risks and rewards with other like-minded families, learning as we go, and documenting and measuring our progress along the way.

You might be wondering what we're planning to do with the money we won last night.  Well, we'd like to expand our co-op and if you've ever purchased fencing, you'll know it's very expensive.  We estimate that we'll need to spend over $1,000 on quality perimeter fencing and netting to keep our birds safe from predators.  With that in place, we'll be in a position to increase the size of our flock.  The hens, together with their feeding equipment and other paraphernalia, will set us back another $500 or so.

Once we have done this, we will be in a position to open up our membership to additional families who are interested in learning about owning and taking care of chickens.  And the financial boost from our award will allow us to keep the cost down, which will help ensure families of all income levels are able to participate.

A flock of birds (we have 24 at the moment) is of course a lot bigger than the one or two hens that the average backyard chicken owner is likely to want to own.  But that's the way a collective works:  with 10 member families, our 24 hens provide us with an average of 15 eggs a week per family, and that's about the right number.

At the end of the day though, every project was a winner for our local environment and for sustainability.  Being one of the award winners feels wonderful, and of course we're basking in the glow of all the media attention today, but what's much more important is the flow of ideas in the community.

And tomorrow, when the spotlight has moved to a new piece of action, we'll be heading out to the coop to clean out the poop and to collect our free range eggs.

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Please keep the Windsor urban chicken discussion going! We love to 'read your constructive comments.