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December 16, 2009

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MRH Offers Free Classes in Raising Backyard Chickens

In keeping with its commitment to encourage healthy eating choices and learning more about where one’s food comes from, the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District is offering two classes in urban chicken farming. The classes are free and available to the public.

“Chickens 101” takes place Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. and “I Have Chickens...Now What?” is offered Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Both classes are offered at the MRH Early Childhood Center, 2801 Oakland Ave. in Maplewood.

The classes are part of the district’s commitment to sustainability and healthy food choices. The district has been recognized for its innovative grant-funded programs, like Healthy Eating through Local Produce, in which a unique partnership with the Missouri Farmers Union and Saint Louis University brings locally grown foods to MRH cafeterias. Moreover, the district has expanded its Seed-to-Table program to include the addition of resident chickens at the MRH Early Childhood Center.

Participants in both classes will have the opportunity to tour the school’s chicken coop and meet the chickens. The classes will provide an overview of raising chickens in an urban environment, and will include handouts and suggested reading lists. The January class is introductory and available for all interest levels and the February class will offer more specific details for those committed to raising chickens.

The benefits of raising chickens include having healthier eggs than typical factory farmed eggs, having natural insect control (chickens love most garden pests), and they’re fun. Among the myths of raising chickens is that they’re too noisy (they’re not; it’s roosters that make the most noise), that they carry disease (no more likely than your household pet), and that they produce too much droppings (not true, plus it’s good for composting).

The instructor for both classes is Julia Weese-Young, who teaches classes in raising urban chickens through the Missouri Botanical Garden. To register for the classes, contact MRH Seed-to-Table Program Director Debi Gibson. Space is limited.

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.