Chickens are an excellent addition to any small-scale growing system, if you have the space. They recycle green waste and produce two very valuable things for the small-scale gardener: fresh eggs, and chicken manure.
In a rooftop garden scenario, there’s no reason that chickens can’t still be a valuable part of the growing system. A great example is at Eagle Street Roofotop Farm in NYC, where Nick recently hung out with some high-rise chickens…
The chicken run at Eagle Street Farm is a simple affair, but it has all the attributes of a good small-scale chicken system:
Shelter: both in the cosy nesting box section, and also along the run as it’s next to a low wall that shields the wind.
Green pick: In the form of regular offcuts, seedheads and leaf material from the garden beds, making for happy, healthy chickens.
Intermittent clean-outs: of the deep litter that builds up in the run as the chickens tread down successive batches of straw and the stems of the green pick.
The deep litter that builds up in the run is perfect for adding to a compost pile, where the nitrogen-rich manure and carbon-rich materials can fast-track a ho-hum compost pile into something that’s ready to return to the garden beds sooner.
And up on a rooftop, every little bit of free nutrient helps, because otherwise you need to bring that nutrient in to grow your next round of veggies, to make up for what you take out in the form of harvest.
You can check out more of Tom Selby’s images of Eagle St Rooftop Farm (shot in 2010) at The Selby. Cheers to the Eagle Street Farm crew for letting Nick check out the action last May.
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Chickens love their insects too. You should consider a fly maggot trap to feed those beauties some more protein.