-Raise Chickens to Donate Eggs-
“This initiative has not only fed the bodies of our community but also the hearts, souls and minds.”
First United Methodist Church
Through their community garden, First United Methodist Church was actively providing fresh fruits and vegetables for their community. They were looking for a way to provide healthy protein and decided to raise chickens for eggs. Eggs are a nutritious source of sustainable, high-quality protein. They make for a great protein donation since they have a long shelf life and can be used for many things.
With support from the community, 24 hens were donated to the ministry. Using a grant from Resourceful Communities and expertise from a few church members, a coop and a spacious run were built for the hens. In less than a year, the ministry donated a total of 5,000 eggs to the Hickory Soup Kitchen, the Salvation Army, and homebound individuals in their community. Additionally, through the grant, First UMC-Hickory was able to create two paid, year-round positions to take care of the garden and the hens. Being able to provide jobs for their community was another important goal for the ministry along with providing healthy foods.
First UMC-Hickory is also using the chickens to create a ministry that teaches and promotes good environmental stewardship while strengthening the local food system. They’ve partnered with their local Cooperative Extension to provide onsite space to educate people about backyard chicken farming. Their garden also serves as a site where youth clubs, such as Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, come and visit to learn about local food production.
First UMC-Hickory has a strong history of providing for their community – they grow 75% of fresh produce used by the Hickory Soup Kitchen. Jamie Hawley, the Faith Community Nurse, estimates that the ministry feeds about 500-600 people a month through several initiatives, including their monthly community meal.
Some things to consider if you want chickens in your garden:
Check to see if there are restrictions to raising chickens in your Town or County. In some more urban areas, raising chickens may be banned or highly regulated.
Check with your Cooperative Extension about regulations for backyard chicken keeping. You may need to register your flock with NCDA&CS for safety, especially if you are interested in meat production.
Research which chicken breeds are best for your needs -- meat or egg laying? Research breeds online, or connect with community members & Cooperative Extension
Keep chickens safe from predators and natural elements. You can build your own chicken coop or buy one depending on your budget.
Caring for chickens doesn’t require as much time and effort as other livestock. On average, the chicken coordinator at First UMC-Hickory devotes an hour of work a few days a week with the chickens.
Share any extra chicken poultry/eggs with your community via community potluck dinner, donation to your local soup kitchen, etc.
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