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Urban Livestock Expo

By Martha Boyd, Program Director, Urban Initiative (Chicago)

On February 16th, over 200 visitors convened at the Garfield Park Conservatory to learn about caring for livestock in the city. 

Many people helped make the first annual Urban Livestock Expo a success – the organizers: Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA), Angelic Organics Learning Center, Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts, the hosts, the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, the 15 presenters, 20+ volunteers AND the standing room only crowd who came to learn from experienced practitioners about keeping chickens, ducks, bees, goats,...

Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Learning Center's Martha Boyd help Little Village community residents work in an urban garden

Edible Chicago recently featured the Learning Center's partner, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in the article "Plants Sprout, Justice Served in Chicago's Little Village,"  by Terra Brockman. Located in South Lawndale (Little Village), LVEJO has developed three garden sites with assistance from the Learning Center. Providing technical assistance, project and budget planning, and funding for equipment and other garden supplies, the Learning Center has worked with LVEJO to help community residents grow, get, and eat good and healthy fresh food. Learning Center staff have been able to offer workshops to project leaders and...

AOLC volunteer beekeepers

Photo of AOLC beekeepers courtesy of John Lodder.

Heidi is one of five dedicated volunteers who make up the Learning Center’s beekeeping team, and tend our beehives weekly at our urban farmstead in Woodlawn at 6400 S. Kimbark. You can learn more about our bees and how to start your own hive at our upcoming Beekeeping workshop on March 26. Heidi was interviewed by AOLC Grants Coordinator Laura Wetter.

 

Q. When and how did you first become interested in beekeeping?

Heidi: My curiosity was piqued (like many others) when Colony Collapse Disorder made the news....

AOLC Chicago Urban Initiative Program Director Martha Boyd weighs in on proposed Chicago zoning changes that would affect urban agriculture in a recent Chicago Tribune article, The city that grows: Officials, local farmers divided on new urban agricultre rules.

 

You can read also the proposed ordinance on the city's website. Stay tuned to our blog for further updates on the outcome of this debate.

 

 ...

Chickens can be raised in your backyard

We have experienced an overwhelming level of interest in our Backyard Chickens workshops this Spring. Our recent workshop in March sold out with 35 attendees--and a waiting list. When we presented at this year's Family Farmed Expo in Chicago, an estimated 150 were in attendance with standing room only. Everyone wants chickens!

 

In addition to hosting Backyard Chickens workshops, AOLC Chicago Program Director Martha Boyd also manages a Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts google group. The group brings together a flock of folks in and around Chicago to share stories and promote best practices in raising chickens. Many...

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Five fantastic interns and volunteers joined me for our last urban farmstead volunteer day of the year, just before the snow and below-zero wind-chill hit Chicago. After mulching First Presbyterian Church’s landscape with donated woodchips and feeding our composting worms, all six of us piled into our low tunnel, the 7’x 24’ passive solar mini greenhouse we built in our demonstration garden in October. Crouched under the 4 foot ceiling, we thinned, harvested and pulled slugs from beets, carrots, chard, radishes and turnips planted this summer and fall. Our extended season crops in the...

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 Teachers often ask us about incubating eggs at school to teach students about biology, chickens, farming, and food. We asked Chicago chicken keepers if they would like to get their hens from classroom hatching projects. Reflections: 

  1. BIOLOGICAL REALITY IS: about half of the eggs will hatch out male chicks – and there’s no way to know which before they hatch (except a new method that measures estrogen levels inside the shell.) Right after hatching, sex-linked varieties can be distinguished (boys from girls) by color of certain feathers, for instance. Otherwise,
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