Urban chicken keeping has in recent years become an ongoing trend that seems to have legs, as beekeeping begins to build a buzz. But what, beyond an interesting hobby and a source of eggs for the owner, is this good for?
In Todmorden, a community near Manchester, England, it means fostering local self reliance and resilience. How? The local chapter of Incredible Edible, an organization championing local food, has mapped where in town excess eggs can be found, along with orchard and places Incredible Edible has started food gardens.
While many efforts have happened around mapping forageable fruit, this is the first I’ve encountered an egg map. Why is this significant? If you know anything of chickens, they are easily prone to overproducing, in comparison to the need of one family.
While the chicken keepers have likely found ways to make use of or give excess eggs to friends and neighbors, egg maps do something different: Connect all of these local resources together, helping provide a resilient network of fresh, low cost or free protein, meeting the broader local community’s needs by local means, and at a higher nutritional value when fresh.
More than this, when people become aware of the web of neighbors who are also producing, it creates a broader, more powerful sense of community that stretches beyond the exchange of excess eggs. And the more people are aware that there are a substantial number of others engaging in these same activities, the more "normalized" it gets, encouraging others to jump in an do them as well. In an urban environment, perhaps more prone to anonymity and isolation, this becomes even more relevant.
You don’t need to wait for someone to create such a web of connection where you are, as Resilient Communities shares. Google Maps makes simple work of it, and if you’d rather use open source tools not dependent on the internet to work, MapTools is a great place to start.
So what are you waiting for, it’s time to activate your community!
Readers: Have you seen similar such efforts out there that we should know about and be inspired by?