2014 was filled with amazing poultry highlights. We want to thank YOU, our supporters, for all the amazing work you do! Sharing your eggs and advice; inspiring people to great eggspectations. You are the heart of why our flock continues to grow!
The Funky Chicken Coop Tour is under the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Urban Poultry Association of Texas, Inc. (UPAT). UPAT’s mission is to educate people on the benefits of raising poultry in an urban environment as part of a sustainable food system. We strive to do so through educational outreach. While the Funky Chicken Coop Tour is our showcase event of the year, we continue our outreach year round with educational workshops, often announced through Meetups, and speaking engagements, such as with SxSW or other organizations. UPAT’s Meetup is the Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup.
The 2014 Funky Chicken Coop Tour:
1. Was the 6th consecutive annual Tour and reached over 2,500 visitors. The plants and gardens couldn’t have been more spectacular at our new Tour Headquarters of Sunshine Community Gardens (SCG). A huge thanks to SCG’s leadership for their wonderful support! As always, our sponsors are who make this event possible. We appreciate ongoing support from Austin EcoNetwork, Buck Moore Feed and Pet Supply, Callahan’s General Store, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill, Edible Austin, Vida Veterinary Mobile Services, Wheatsville Food Co-op, Happy Hen Treats, and more! We also want to thank our City of Austin departments who participated on Tour Day with booths, including the City’s Health Department, Public Libraries, and Austin Resource Recovery. Watch for more fun in 2015!
See more photos on our 2014 Tour Day Flickr album.
Watch the 12-second hyper lapse video of the 250-ft. berm and swale!
2. Tour proceeds funded a Permablitz for New Farm Institute, the non-profit arm of Green Gate Farms. Skip Connect and Erin Flynn founded Green Gate Farm in 2006 in an underserved neighborhood of East Austin. They have created a neighborhood resource for all incomes. When talking about the Permablitz, Skip stated, a weekend of “cutting deadwood, digging a 250-foot swale, and planting fruit trees has transformed a wooded hillside into a defensive line against groundwater runoff, soil erosion, and farmer neglect…Our plan is to use this hillside for New Farm Institute’s education workshops and camps. Eventually we’ll have chickens pastured in the lower pasture that will thrive from all that diverted water.” Read more…
3. Save the date! The 7th Annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour will be held on Saturday, April 4, 2015. Get more information on how to have your poultry housing on the tour, sponsor the tour, or volunteer on our website at AustinCoopTour.org.
In 2014, the Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup:
1. Reached our 5-year anniversary.
2. AND…*drumroll please*…we became the largest Backyard Poultry Meetup in the world! We are over 2,100 strong and growing! We are in Texas, so we are going to be biggest and bestest, right? 😉 We are in good company with other cities with large and active poultry Meetups. We hope to see more cities in the mix in 2015!
3. We also had a year of more intentional “cross-pollination” and hands-on learning of poultry integrated into the urban landscape. We worked with various organizations and farms, including:
• Austin Backyard Goat Meetup to learn about raising goats and poultry;
• Austin Permaculture Guild to install perennial food gardens in farms and schools in the Austin area (more on this in the next section);
• Munkebo Farm to understand key points for duck husbandry;
• SxSW and SxSW Eco. Tech, green, and poultry are always the perfect combination!
• Yard to Market Co-op to learn how to take your yard eggs and garden goodies to market;
• Festival Beach Food Forest/Elizabeth Walsh, Kirby Fry, John van Lowe, and others to discuss food forests in a civic and backyard level. Congrats to FBFF on Austin City Council approving the first public food forest initiative in Austin! (And special thanks to John van Lowe with Food is Free to for growing and providing Moringa tree seedlings to Meetup participants!)
• JoAnn Smotherman with Eden’s Cove Farm for teaching our interested members how to humanely process chickens.
4. We’d like to thank the Brazos Valley Poultry Club members for organizing Poultry Exhibition events and sharing them through Meetups.
• The 22nd Annual Bluebonnet Classic and 3rd Annual Winter Egg Show happened in January.
• The 4th Annual Austin Egg Show was sizzling with excitement in June.
• Thanks also to Sage Talavera, Egg Show Judge Eggstraordinaire for her tireless judging!
• Check out the 2015 BVPC Exhibition Show calendar on BVPC’s website.
Other 2014 Food News…
The Urban Farm Code Ordinance went into effect in March 2014. The Austin ordinances for backyard poultry owners did not get impacted. However, there were impacts for commercial food operations.
In 2014, Edwin Marty joined the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability. Edwin’s impressive background and hands-on experience in the local food scene will be a strong asset for city government. Edwin is busy at work to make Austin’s food frontier even better. Watch in the first quarter of 2015 for the first State of the Food System report. Stay up to date with Austin’s Food 411 by signing up for updates for “Austin Food Notes” at: http://www.austintexas.gov/notes
Looking forward to 2015…
We have a great year ahead. Stay tuned for some eggciting announcements for projects under way! If you have been raising poultry, you can help someone else interested get started. If you aren’t raising poultry but are interested, volunteer at a community garden or with a neighbor to learn more to get you on your poultry-raising path. (Pssst! We love volunteers for the Coop Tour or for the Meetup!) Of course, don’t miss the 2015 Funky Chicken Coop Tour on April 4, 2015. It’s a great way to get many of your poultry raising questions answered first hand.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with what is going on with food policy on the neighborhood, city, county, state, federal, or global level. The best way to stay up to date is to commit to being involved in some way. Or simply be the change by leading through example: a front lawn converted to attractive food producing gardens; poultry producing a basket of colored eggs; volunteering with a local organization with a mission in which you believe. The most important thing is to get started. It’s amazing where small, good deeds lead.
Wishing you a prosperous 2015. Let’s accomplish great things together!