Rooftop Chickens

Rooftop girls

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… 

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, early Summer

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, early Summer (chickens are top left)

Seeding asparagus - a perfect and protein-rich chicken food...

Seeding asparagus – a perfect and protein-rich chicken food…

The chicknes are onto it - soon this seesong asparagus will be fresh eggs. And more good manure for the garden

Into the coop, and the chickens are onto it – soon this seeding asparagus will be fresh eggs. And more good manure for the garden

1308 city chickens - 1

City-fresh eggs

City-fresh eggs

Rooftop girls

Rooftop girls

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.

The why and how of Eagle Street Rooftop farm. Image © Tom Selby

The why and how of Eagle Street Rooftop farm. Image © Tom Selby

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Annie (Eagle St founder) and the chickens. Image © Tom Selby

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.

>> More posts about Urban food growing strategies here…

3 Comments

  1. Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on artattack.

  2. Posted August 26, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on X_trous Notes.

  3. Ruth
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Chickens love their insects too. You should consider a fly maggot trap to feed those beauties some more protein.

One Trackback

  1. […] Kirsten, over at Milkwood, wrote a blog this morning about rooftop farming, a phenomenon that seems to be gaining traction in cities across the world. The article was about chickens still being of importance in such a system. I agree. But my mind turned to the rooftops of buildings here in Australia. Consider your local Bunnings Warehouse (Australia’s answer to Home Depot, to my American readers). Look at the size of the place. I did some crude measurements of my local store, using Google Maps, and the catchment area is a massive 7000 square metres (almost 2 acres!). According to my water catchment calculations, that would see a yield of around 3,850,000 litres per year, based on local average rainfall. That’s enough water to satisfy the average needs of 35 people! I can only imagine how much water is wasted by residential and commercial premises that just pipe it down the drain. This is a large scale problem, one that councils and government encourage. As I said in my comment to Kirsten, this must make rural folk like her, who prey for and respect every last drop they receive, cringe. […]

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