A Bird in Hand: Mayor Menino Unveils Boston's Newest Food Source, the Long Island Chicken Farm
Eggs to be sold at local farmers' markets and served at city's homeless shelter
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For Immediate Release
August 27, 2010
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Press.Office@cityofboston.gov

Boston is going to the birds – chickens to be exact. Mayor Thomas M. Menino christened the City’s first free-range chicken farm today on Long Island, in Boston Harbor, marking another milestone in the City’s efforts to provide fresh, healthy and affordable food to more Boston residents.

“Boston has been in the forefront of cities using their available land and resources to increase access to healthy, affordable foods,” said Mayor Menino. “The chicken farm is another small step in bringing low cost healthy food to our residents, and it is the perfect complement to our existing organic farm on Long Island.”

The chicken farm has about 50 Rhode Island Red hens that are fed food scraps from the organic farm, such as carrot tops and produce that is past-ripe. The hens are free of antibiotics and hormones, which are requirements the farm must meet as it pursues organic certification, and they have access to the outdoors, thanks to a solar-panel automatic door that allows them to graze freely and fertilize other areas of the farm. Each hen is expected to produce between 250 and 300 light-to-dark brown eggs each year. Starting next summer, the eggs will be sold at local farmers’ markets and distributed to the Long Island homeless shelter.

Mayor Menino proposed the idea of the chicken farm after one of his visits to Long Island, where the existing 2.5-acre farm produces an average of 25,000 pounds a year of certified organic vegetables, flowers, and herbs. The produce is sold at farmers’ markets, used at the homeless shelter, and purchased by Boston restaurants, such as Ashmont Grill and Tavelo, both in Dorchester and owned by local chef Chris Douglass.

Both the chicken and produce farms are run by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Serving Ourselves program, which provides hands-on job training, life skills, and education for homeless people. Participants learn all aspects of food production, including soil preparation, planting techniques, pest control, harvesting, and how to market their produce at local farmers markets, which helps raise funds for the program. The program’s culinary arts students learn pickling, drying, and cooking with fresh herbs. Graduates have continued on to permanent employment in the restaurant, food, horticulture, and landscaping industries.

For the second year, the organic farm is also employing teens from Boston’s Youth Options Unlimited (Y.O.U.) to grow and harvest produce - and now tend to the chicken farm. Located in Dudley Square, the citywide Y.O.U. program provides case management, educational counseling, and transitional jobs to court-involved youth ages 14 to 24.

“The chicken farm, like the organic farm, will not only contribute to nourishing the bodies of Boston residents, but also the souls of people who could use a little help,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Public Health Commission. “It’s a winning combination, and we have Mayor Menino’s leadership and vision to thank for that.”

Watch video of Mayor Menino's unveiling of Boston's first chicken farm. http://www.cityofboston.gov/cable/video_library.asp?id=1706

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