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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chicken Little Visits San Francisco Backyards

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 7:30 AM

jennifersiebelgarden_thumb_300x200.jpg
If only we could look this mod in our garden....

When Jennifer Siebel squatted down last year in the Civic Center Plaza garden in her Jackie O. shades and trench coat to get her delicate hands dirty, it was official: urban gardening is glam. And with folks having fewer bucks than ever to burn on pricey organic products, it's also practical.

But rumor has it that a small but growing number of food-conscious city slickers have decided its time to take this "Green Acres" act one step further, raising their own chickens right here in San Francisco. And yes, up to four birds -- it's perfectly legal.

The folks from Santa Cruz-based Urban Eggs hosted a seminar this month at the Arizmendi Bakery in the Inner Sunset on raising your own flock. Co-founder Paul Glowaski said it was the fourth they've hosted in the city. (Three of anything makes a trend in journalism, so with four, we're feel like we're onto something here.) Nearly 60 attendees flocked in from all over the Bay Area, some 20 of whom indicated they already had chickens and/or ducks, the rest being merely curious rather they should take the plunge. Check out this pdf file for some pointers on starting your coop:

Chicken Resources 4-11-09b.pdf

Glowaski says some folks find it cheaper to get their eggs from the backyard rather than the supermarket. Others are trying to get in touch with their long-lost agrarian roots. Then there's your garden variety foodies, who want to ensure their morning eggs weren't birthed in a cage where the poor bird couldn't move its wings.

"I think people think it's a lot of fun," Glowaski said. "It's great to get eggs from your own backyard. If chickens have access to grass and bugs, the eggs are healthier than the factory eggs you get at [the supermarket]. With pastured free-range eggs, they're higher in Vitamin A and E, and people want to be able to eat a healthy egg."

Chickens can be shipped to you, or you can buy them at feed or pet stores, he added. You can feed them any combination of traditional chicken feed, kitchen scraps, beans, bugs, grains, and oyster shells. City law requires you build them a structure to protect them at night from raccoons or other predators.  

Animal Care and Control Spokeswoman Deb Campbell said chickens can be good for the soul as well. "Chickens can be good companions... They will jump up on your lap and snuggle into your neck." With that kind of lovin', it looks like the chicks at O'Farrell Brothers may soon be out of a job in this city, too.  

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Lauren Smiley

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