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Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts Present 5th Annual Windy City Coop Tour

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Sep 16, 2014 8:30PM

Backyard chickens are once again front and center. This weekend, hen houses across Chicago open for the fifth annual Windy City Coop Tour, showcasing Chicagoland’s urban poultry and other livestock from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20-21.

The free, self-guided event connects the chicken curious with those who’ve already taken the poultry plunge and transformed their urban backyards into makeshift barnyards. Visitors are invited to ask direct questions of hosts, many of whom integrate urban chickens with gardening, composting, rainwater harvesting and other aspects of backyard food production to live more sustainably. First-time host Eric Staswick’s yard in Albany Park is home to chickens, ducks, dairy goats and assorted vegetables and fruits. “We keep chickens because we believe it’s important to understand the food cycle and where our food comes from. We want our kids to understand that food is grown, not manufactured,” he asserts.

The tour, which launched in 2010 as Henapalooza, is organized by Angelic Organics Learning Center and the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts and has featured 70 sites across 26 wards and five neighboring communities. Matt Binns and Margaret Frisbie of Hermosa have participated all five years, saying, “We originally got our chickens because we thought it was good for the planet and a kinder way to get eggs. We found that not only are the eggs wonderful and wholesome, but the chickens are hilarious and fun, and not much effort at all.”

You can view the tour map here and read details about all 29 host sites. The Learning Center will also again offer its comprehensive Basic Backyard Chicken Care Workshop Nov. 8, with instructor Jen Murtoff of Home to Roost Urban Chicken Consulting. The advanced workshop, Urban Chicken Health Care, takes place Nov. 13.