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Why Are Chickens Leading the Sharing Revolution?

Submitted by on June 30, 2009 – 12:33 pmOne Comment

Now that The Sharing Solution is officially released, Emily and I have spent much of the past few weeks talking – on the radio and in bookstores – to people about sharing. I love it when people respond with their sharing stories and ideas, many of which will ultimately make their way on to this blog.

But I NEVER would have guessed that one of the most frequent comments we hear is: “Oh, my neighbor and I have been thinking about sharing chickens!” The first time I heard this, it was charming. Cool idea, I thought. But now we’ve heard it again….and again….and AGAIN! Chicken sharing, chicken clubs, coop-building parties, and all kinds of people who are really putting the “coop” in “cooperative.”

Chicken sharing actually makes a lot of practical sense. Let’s say you, like most people, eat eggs, and you are thinking about getting chickens (and by that, I really mean hens; roosters make noise, not eggs, and they are often illegal to keep in high-density residential areas). If you live in an urban or even suburban area, this could meaning devoting a significant portion of your yard to building a coop and giving the chickens a little free range. Many people wouldn’t go to all of this effort for just one or two chickens. But what if you get 15 chickens, have a coop building party with seven of your neighbors, and start taking turns caring for the chickens? You could even take down part of a fence so that the chickens can have more space to roam into your neighbor’s yard. Each neighbor is assigned one day of the week to feed the chickens and collect eggs.

What do you get? Fifteen hens will produce, on average, around 7 dozen eggs per week. This means that each neighbor will have a dozen fresh and delicious eggs. If that sounds good, take a look at www.backyardchickens.com, which has all kinds of great resources to get you started.

Chicken sharing is very much in line with the movement to eat fresh, local, organic, and sustainably produced food, so it makes sense that many people are turning to chicken sharing. And I imagine that chicken sharing will naturally lead to other kinds of sharing in the neighborhood. If I had a dozen or more eggs per week, I’d probably make a few quiches and share them with the neighbors, which might lead to more regular meal exchanges. Maybe we’d plan a monthly brunch potluck. Maybe start a shared vegetable garden in another neighbor’s yard, and start cooperating to compost all of our food scraps. Maybe start a dog-walking rotation, or a child care cooperative. The possibilities are endless.

So I still don’t know which came first — I just know that both the chicken and the egg are at the forefront of a movement, and that every neighborhood with a chicken club has already hatched a small sharing revolution.

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