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Learn how to raise urban chickens in Somerville at event tonight

Posted by Your Town  November 5, 2013 01:28 PM

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Did you know that it’s legal to raise chickens on your Somerville property?

Yes, it's true.

On Tuesday night, you can get to know some local urban farmers or to see if raising chickens in the backyard is right for you at the Chicken Keepers Social at Relish Center for Urban Agriculture in Somerville. The monthly meet up provides local chicken raisers and those interested in urban agriculture an opportunity to learn, connect, and further advance urban farming.

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Khrysti Smyth of Yardbirds Backyard Chickens has been teaching area residents about urban chicken keeping for the last five years. She launched her company in 2012 with the goal of making backyard chicken keeping accessible to as many people as possible. She currently maintains a flock of 12 chickens and is excited to host this monthly meet up group.

“I’m the Boston area’s only official chicken concierge,” Smyth said. “Part of the reason I started the group is to have it be a place where people interested in [urban chicken farming] as a hobby or interested in the bigger agricultural movement can all get together and learn something.”

The monthly meet up group, which has been gathering on the first Tuesday of every month since August, provides locals the opportunity to learn more about urban chicken raising, a relatively new idea in the Boston area.

Smyth said that people often do not realize that it is both legal and simple to keep chickens in their backyards. She recommends about 6 to 10 square feet of outdoor space per chicken as well as 2 to 3 square feet of indoor space.

“They’re like keeping a hamster by the amount of care it takes, but they have the added bonus of providing breakfast,” Smyth said.

Smyth said that the meet up group has not only encouraged people with their urban farming endeavors, but that it has also become a great place to support one another. She said the group makes it easier to coordinate supplies, exchange tips, and offer chicken-sitting services when people travel. She said the group also tackles different issues in urban chicken raising, such as how to winterize the coop or how to care for aging chickens.

Smyth said that she loves seeing how many people are excited about chicken keeping within the city limits. She said it’s part of the greater movement to make food local, but that it is also a great way to add a new, unique richness to city life.

“The closer we can produce our food, the less fringe costs are being incurred,” Smyth said. “The other awesome benefit of keeping chickens is that they’re great pets. They have fantastic personalities and they’re hilarious.”

The Chicken Keeper’s Social takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. The group meets at Relish Center for Urban Agriculture, located at 66-70 Union Square, suite 105. To reserve a spot, visit their Eventbrite page. For more information on Yardbirds Backyard Chickens or to learn more about how to raise your own chickens, visit their webpage.

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