Take the Coop Tour and Learn to Raise Your Own Chickens

November 29, 2012

It’s time to take the annual Chicken Coop Tour on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sponsored by The Food Conspiracy Co-op, the annual self-guided tour is a great way to learn about raising chickens in the city. See a wide variety of creative coop styles and sizes. Talk to backyard chicken keepers. Learn how chickens can help your garden grow.

Backyard chicken coups are growing fast in popularity.

The Food Conspiracy launched Tucson’s first urban chicken coop tour in May 2009. The event is designed to introduce people to the joys (and challenges) of urban chicken keeping.

This year the tour has a co-sponsor, Zenhens, a local urban farming cooperative that integrates chickens and gardening. Zenhens’ goal is to deliver a consistent source of local, fresh, organically raised chicken eggs and organic produce. You can buy Zenhens eggs at the Food Conspiracy.

Virtually every major American city now boasts at least one annual chicken coop tour, including Raleigh, Atlanta and Spokane. Urban chicken coops have become trendy enough in Chicago to allow Jennifer Murtoff to make a living as an urban chicken consultant.

Raising chickens in Tucson is more popular now than ever. Several local schools now feature chicken coops, including four that are on this year’s tour: Manzo Elementary, Ochoa Community Magnet School, Cottonwood Elementary School, and Borton Magnet School.

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona also has a chicken coop, which is featured on this year’s tour.

Recently, a Facebook group sprung up to allow chicken owners a forum to ask questions. Torey Ligon started the Facebook group, called Tucson CLUCKS, as a way to organize chicken owners in support of changes to the city’s land use code that would make raising chickens easier. The group is still working toward that goal.

“The really exciting thing about this group is that it turns out that there was an unmet need among Tucson chicken keepers to have a communication tool to discuss all sorts of chicken related issues,” Ligon says.

How the Chicken Coop Tour works
When you buy a ticket for $5, you’ll receive a password. Three days before the tour, visit the co-op’s website (www.foodconspiracy.coop). Enter your password and you’ll get access to a map of participating coops, as well as info about each coop.

On the day of the tour, anyone with a ticket can visit any coops they choose to visit anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. There is no set route. Participants can start at any coop. They do not need to visit every coop, and can spend as little or as much time at each coop as they want to.

At each participating coop, there will be at least one person available throughout the tour to answer questions about their chickens and coops. Many of the coop owners also have other home sustainability features like cisterns, desert gardens, rainwater harvesting basins and solar ovens, and they’ll be happy to talk about them, too.

Monies raised from ticket sales will be donated to the Watershed Management Group to offer subsidies for installing backyard chicken coops and to Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona to procure additional fencing to keep their chickens safe and provide eggs for food-insecure families.

Tickets are $5 and are available at the Food Conspiracy Co-op, 412 N. Fourth Ave.