I'll be the first speaker at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden's Earth Day celebration Sunday April 22. The presentation is Raising Urban Chickens: A Guide to Backyard Poultry, so I'll have pictures of as many traditional breeds as I can put into my PowerPoint. I'll also talk about incorporating chickens into sustainable gardening.
On Saturday, Cal Poly's Center for Sustainability offers a tour of its compost operation. I'll be on that, eager to see what they've got. Last year when I worked on making a local event Zero Waste, I found that San Luis Obispo County does not have a commercial composting operation. I hope this is a move in that direction.
Vermont Composting Company is the only commercial one I know of that puts chickens to work to turn food waste into topsoil. Owner Karl Hammer keeps mostly Australorps to eat food waste he gets from 49 restaurants and institutions, 750 tons a year. That's all diverted from landfills and turned into valuable topsoil and soil enrichment. The Australorps are good foragers, even in winter. The compost generates its own heat, too. They also raise their own chicks for him. He uses dogs to protect the chickens. They all eat from the food waste together.
"It's inedible to people but good food for the chickens and dogs," Hammer says.
Come out to the botanical garden on Sunday and join us! I've got Pat Foreman's books on putting chickens to work on compost, City Chicks and Chicken Tractor, as well as my own on traditional breeds. I plan to bring Oprah and Blondie along, to show people what beautiful chickens look like.