in Our Times Press
A message from Yonnette Fleming, Urban Farmer
Our Chickens arrived at the Hattie Carthan Community Garden on 03/19/10 --
Livestock breeding and farming has been practiced by women in my family for years. This practise ended at my biological grandmother. According to her accounts, a woman who raised hundreds of chickens at a time for consumption in her village of Berbice, New Amsterdam, when the women in our family got married they were given five live eggs as part of a sort of dowry arrangement which were hatched (of course roosters were allowed on those farms) and they learnt how to raise those chicks. Those chicks went on to lay eggs and have other chicks and that was the foundation of their livestock operation. Today, thanks to Heifer funding and the wonderful assistance of Just Food, I too feel we at the Hattie Carthan Community Garden have received the gift of eggs for our market and good hot compost for our compost piles. The birds were raised by Heifer farmer, Martin Rodriguez, and passed unto the Hattie Carthan community garden as part of Heifer's motto: passing on the gift of knowledge. We are grateful to farmer Martin and his wife Guadencia who took the time to bring the birds from their farm MimoMex in Goshen, NY to Bedford-Stuyesant for us and for sharing valuable tips for raising the birds. We used our time together to flesh out possible future partnerships around food and livestock. The eggs from our hens are distributed in our discounted weekly mixed basket and the dung will be added back to our compost. I feel truly, ancestrally linked to my foremothers who raised the same breed (Rhode Island Reds). The first day of bonding with the hens and getting to know them was indeed humbling. They have so much to teach us about sustainability. We got half a dozen eggs yesterday alone. Listening to that familiar sound that announces the arrival of eggs was just wonderful for us working on the farm yesterday.
We realize that the roosters have been ousted from the cities so that we can wake up to the sound of blaring sirens instead. We long for the day when those roosters can be welcomed back into the cities as the sound of their crowing is a nice alternative to the mechanical roosters that pollute our neighborhoods and terrorize our hearts with their loud unnatural sounds. Working with the chickens has been a very interesting experience. Tasting the fresh egg and comparing that to what is sold to us in supermarkets has been mind-blowing. The eggs from our coop are silky in texture, very tasty and filling. Using humane approaches in our partnerships with animals is far more rewarding than inhumane approaches that create huge profits. Our neighborhood youths are buzzing with excitement at the arrival of the birds and schools are beginning to call to find out how the kids can get involved in learning about these animals. We will be gathering our chicken committee to begin livestock training and logistics for community chicken care interns. Those of you who have volunteered to be a part of that committee that will preserve the health and wellbeing of these hens will receive a chicken meet-up notice shortly.
Please submit an online volunteer form if you would like to learn more about chickens or wish to help to tend our flock daily. Chicken care tip sheets and periodic status updates on our hens will be announced in this section. Feel free to stop by the farm to see the beauties for yourself. Livestock culture is here.
Farmly, Yonnette Fleming
Keep up with our chickens' progress here.