Chicken Coop Deconstructed

Homegrown Neighbor here. I volunteer at a local high school with an agricultural program. Remember that we are in the middle of Los Angeles and agriculture is largely a thing of the past here.

This school is one of the last public high schools in the area to have space devoted to an orchard, garden and farm. Right now it is home to a goat, a Vietnamese pot bellied pig, dozens of rabbits and two hens. As can be expected, the program hasn’t gotten the respect and resources it deserves in the last few years. Things look a little scraggly, the orchard is filled with weeds and most of the barns haven’t been touched in thirty years, now housing only spiders.

This program is special of course because it allows city kids to have access to green space, get outside and get close to a pot bellied pig- all rare experiences around here.

My current project is rehabbing the old chicken coop. I brought in my friend Justin, curator of the local arts space Echo Curio and a fellow master gardener to help. He has the building and construction skills that I lack.

This week the students took off all of the old plywood, chain link and chicken wire.

The students loved destroying the old structure. They got to use crowbars and hammers after a little safety lesson. Dust and spiderwebs flew everywhere. They practically had to be dragged back to the classroom at the end of the period because they were having so much fun they didn’t want to stop.The old chicken coop is now stripped down to the studs. As soon as we can get the supplies, we will start rebuilding. The students will get some real hands on construction lessons and get to build it themselves. Once the paint drys the school will be ready for a big flock of chickens. I think the coop could handle about 20.

Next we’ll rehab the big barn and get mini goats and dwarf sheep. This is going to be a jewel of an urban farm and a great educational space!

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10 Comments

  1. One of the very coolest things in L.A. is our Master Gardener program. The program teaches people how to grow food so that we may in turn teach others (specifically in low-income areas) to grow their own food. We must do a certain amount of volunteer work every year to keep our Master Gardener certification.
    Pretty much any school garden or community project that needs help growing food can turn to Master Gardeners for help.

  2. Thanks for the info on a school in the middle of LA that actually still has the remnants of an ag program.

    Please keep us up to date on how things go with the construction, with the new hens, with the barn. This is great, so more power to you, from up here in San Jose!

  3. That is a wonderful project! Have you any info on the legality of goats? I hsve been looking into getting them here in LA, and I don’t know what the codes are. The dwarf Nigerians are no larger than a dog (much smaller than the Great Dane we had) so it seems like it should be ok–but just haven’t had any definitive info. on that.

    Kudos on your project, I wish all schools were a enlightened about what constitutes an eductional environment!

  4. I don’t know if the chickens will be allowed to forage in the orchard. In the past, they have had chickens that roamed in the open. Unfortunately they were all eaten by hawks. Some were even attacked in front of the kids. So I think the chickens will stay in their coop and enclosed run.
    But the teacher wants pygmy goats. They would be excellent weed control in the orchard. Guess we’ll have to fix up the old barn next.

  5. My mother grew up on dairy farms in Artesia and Chino. One of her old homesteads is now a Firestone Tire store and the neighbor’s place is a gargantuan mall. Glad to hear there is a speck of the area’s old ag roots lingering about, at least a bit for educational purposes. What a fantastic project!

  6. The project sounds wonderful except for the pygmy goats! Nothing wrong with the goats themselves – we used to have a couple and enjoyed having them around – but they will kill all the trees in the orchard! Like deer they are browsers and will eat the bark off the trunks and the tree will die. Chickens, geese (though geese can be a bit mean) or guinea hens would be a better fit. Could you put up poultry netting for a ceiling to keep the hawks out? Anyway, way to go . . .

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