Chicken Stimulus Package at the 2014 Richmond Home and Garden Show

Reader Contribution by Pat Foreman
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I was visiting my mother in Indiana when a call came from Lisa Dearden, a Board Member of the Gossamer Foundation, owner of ChiknEgg Productions and a social marketing master. She sighs and says: “The organizers of the Richmond Home and Garden Show want to give us a booth to feature chickens at the show.”

Since chickens were legalized last year in Richmond (Virginia’s state capital) and other towns around the Eastern Seaboard have been changing the laws to allow family flocks, the Home & Garden Show organizers want to draw those people in.

“They have been really bugging me. What do you think?”

Without too much thought I replied: “Sure! We’ll do a Chicken Stimulus Package.” Long pause on the other end. Then I heard a soft “oh, ok.” What a trooper Lisa is! She didn’t really know what was involved with a Chicken Stimulus Package and yet was willing to go along with it anyway.

Chicken Stimulus Package’s 3 Objectives

I had been thinking about Chicken Stimulus Packages (CSP) for years. From my perspective, the goal is to accomplish three objectives:

1. Help first-time and wannabe chicken owners to get family flocks.

2. Raise awareness about the importance of heritage breeds of chickens.

3. Increase family flocks in urban areas and employ the chickens as garden helpers, biomass recyclers, compost and topsoil creators and local food suppliers.

Lisa thought that sounded like a good thing and we agreed to proceed.

As far as I know, the Richmond Home and Garden Show would be the 3rd CSP in the world. The first “Great Chick Give Away” was facilitated by Andy Schneider (aka the Chicken Whisperer) with volunteers from the Atlanta Chicken Meetup Group. They distributed 700 chicks. I was co-host of the Chicken Whisperer Talk Show at that time, and the U.S.’s Economic Stimulus Package was being promoted to help pull the 99% out of the “Great Recession.” With our tongue-in-cheek humor, Andy and I started referring to the “Great Chick Give Away” as a “Chicken Stimulus Package.” It stuck.

The second CSP was in 2011 at one of the Gossamer Foundation’s Chickens and YOU Training Courses. We gave away 100 heritage pullet chicks donated by Randall Burkey Company as part of a the 2-day training series.

This 3rd CSP at the Richmond Home & Garden Show gave away 300 heritage female chicks donated by Murray McMurray Hatchery. It is important to promote the heritage breeds (as defined by The Livestock Conservancy (I’m a long-term member) because they are good foragers, hearty, long-lived, naturally mating, and dual-purpose. These are the breeds developed before 1900. Some breeds are in danger of becoming extinct.

Promoting Heritage Breed Chickens

The heritage breeds we chose were Buff Orpington, Black Australorp, Plymouth Barred Rock and Americana (Easter Eggers). This gives an eye-candy flock of easy-to-identify biddy buddies and multi-colored eggs for a dramatic rainbow-like presentation in cartons.

Next blog post will chick-chat about brooding and getting the chicks to the show.

Photo by Fotolia/smikeymikey1

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