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Learning Center graduate’s business helps build the local food system

After taking the Learning Center’s “Basic Backyard Chicken Care” workshop in the fall of 2009, entrepreneur John Emrich had a light bulb moment.


“When I logged on to the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts discussions page, I noticed that 9 out of 10 posts were about how to get organic chicken feed for backyard chickens. There wasn’t a local source for organic chicken feed.”


Emrich launched his organic chicken feed delivery business, Backyard Chicken Run, soon after and made his first delivery in January 2010. He now serves more than 100 customers throughout Chicago and the suburbs, delivering organic chicken feed he sources from local farms. The business has grown to include all-natural dog food, cat food, cat litter and more.


“I’m doing this because I want to be a part of the incredibly important local food movement and help people. I’ve never had to advertise and it just continues to grow.”


Previously John worked in investment management and corporate finance, and now feels lucky to be doing something he feels is making a difference in people’s lives.

“I jump out of bed in the morning to start the deliveries,” John says.


John has become a passionate advocate for building the local food system. He led the effort to make keeping backyard chickens legal in his own town of Long Grove, IL in November 2011.

He has taken workshops on goats, cheese making and would like to keep bees and eventually write a book about the local food movement.


“I have enormous respect for all of the people who make up the local food movement. I am so glad to be a part of it.”


To learn more about Backyard Chicken Run, visit