Water Capture, Storage, and Conservation at Community Gardens Panel Discussion, June 3, 2017, 10-11:30am

Just in time for summer gardening – let’s talk about water! Visit Homewood Heights Community Garden for a tour and panel discussion all about water capture, storage, and conservation. Learn success strategies for setting up a rainwater system and the technical ins and outs of water storage and conservation and mulching techniques. Meredith Gauthier from City of Austin Parks and Recreation will also explain the City’s rainwater rebate program.

Panel speakers: Greg Hammond from Homewood Heights Community Garden. Other water expert panelists TBD. Panel discussion will be held in a shaded area. : )

When: Saturday, June 3rd, 10-11:30am

Where: Homewood Heights Community Garden, 2606 Sol Wilson Dr., 78702

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1272163382882375/

Registration up for 2017 American Community Gardening Association Conference, July 27-30 in Hartford, CT!

The American Community Gardening Association hosts an annual bi-national conference that is a fantastic way to meet gardeners and advocates from across the U.S. and Canada (and beyond), as well as wonderful way to learn about best practices for successful community gardens and about other food justice projects.

Registration is open and scholarships are available (applications are due TODAY, May 5 at 5pm EST, 4pm CST).

Check it out! Sustainable Food Center will be sending their Grow Local’s program director (Sari Albornoz). Consider sending a representative from  your garden!

https://communitygarden.org/conference/registrationscholarships/

5/2 Coalition of Austin Community Gardens working group meeting notes

Hello gardeners!  Please see the meeting notes from our 5/2 CACG working group meeting below.

Coalition of Austin Community Gardens Working Group

May 2, 2017 6-7 pm at Sustainable Food Center

Note-Taker: Sari Albornoz

Present: Janet Adams (Sunshine CG), Kay McMurry (SCG), Greg Hammond (Homewood Heights CG), Meredith Gauthier (City of Austin), Sari Albornoz (SFC).

  1. Introductions & Announcements
    1. Meredith gave brief overview of how last panel discussion went. Friends and Foes: Managing Pests & Invasives w/Wizzie Brown. Turnout of about 20 ppl.
    2. Originally proposed date for next panel discussion now has Patterson Park CG’s Grand Opening(!) scheduled on it – May 27th. Need to find new date.
  2. Confirm panel meeting date
    1. June 3rd, 10-11:30am
  3. Discuss and choose panel topic and speakers
    1. Water: irrigation and rainwater – CONFIRMED. Call it: Water Capture, Storage, & Conservation at Community Garden
      1. Greg H. (from HHCG) will be a panelist. 2 more panelists. Ideally, people who can speak to setting up RW system, technical/logistical aspect of it. Possible panelists: Staryn Wagner from City of Austin Watershed Protection (MEREDITH will ask if others are not available), Ed Parken, Master Gardener who spoke at our previous RW harvesting panel discussion– SARI will ask. Other possible panelists: Liz Cardinal (SFC) SARI will ask.
    2. Volunteer management and volunteer management systems
    3. Other
  4. Discuss and choose panel host
    1. North Austin Community Garden
    2. Homewood Heights Community Garden – CONFIRMED
    3. Other
  5. Discussion Structure & Questions
    1. Structure:
      1. 10:00-10:05 am Arrival & settling in
      2. 10:05-10:30 am Greg lead tour of Homewood Heights’ system
      3. 10:30- 11:15 am Panel Q’s
      4. 11:15-11:45 am Q&A
      5. 11:45am-12:00 pm Wrap up
    2. Questions
      1. What system do you recommend for harvesting rainwater?
      2. What advice do you have for managing mosquitos?
      3. How did you fund your rainwater capture system, or what resources do you know of for funding rainwater capture systems?
      4. How does the City rainwater rebate system work, and where can you find information about this? (rainwater collection rebate, rainscape rebate)
      5. What water conservation strategies do you recommend?
      6. Any last comments from panelists
  6. Panel Outreach
    1. Greg will outreach to his neighborhood
    2. Meredith will make the Facebook invitation & will make Greg a co-owner of event, and will share with KAB, NWF, and on Nature in the City, Master Gardeners
    3. Sari will send it out to CACG listserv, SFC’s Community Happenings section of newsletter,  and will put on CACG website.
    4. Kay and Janet will put in Sunshine CG’s newsletter & website
  7. Website Update
    1. Meredith and Sari shared updated website. Old url now leads to new site! http://www.communitygardensaustin.org
  8. Policy Update
    1. Austin Travis County Food Policy Board Codes & Ordinances Working Group is looking at food-related language in CodeNEXT. Analysis doc, if interested: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Kn0jZsJSXgVC9GOI0GXaNbxU0fB_7PvVFz8XlDEu0i4/edit#gid=904940565 (please don’t edit if you’re not coming to the C&O Working Group meetings). CodeNEXT Draft language: https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Planning/CodeNEXT/ALDC_PRD_23_LandDevelopmentCode_Combined_2017_0130_web.pdf
    2. ATCFPB Working Groups are:
      1. Farmland Access & Preservation
      2. Healthy Food Access
      3. Budget
      4. Codes & Ordinances
    3. To keep in the loop, sign up for Austin Food Notes:
    4. Onion Creek FEMA Buyout area: City looking at using for agriculture. Will send out RFPs.
  9. Action Items and Next Meetings
    1. Highlighted in red throughout
    2. We’ll decide next meeting date & next panel date over email. Meredith or Sari will send out Doodle poll.

NOTES for Raising Poultry at Community Gardens Discussion

September 27, 2016
Panelists: Michelle Hernandez (founder, Funky Chicken Coop Tour), Phil Wiley (Deep Eddy CG Chicken Co-op), Sara Mills (Deep Eddy CG Chicken Co-op), Ila Falvey (Sunshine CG Chicken Co-op)

Agenda
6:00 Open House
6:10 Tour of Deep Eddy Chicken Coop w/Phil Wiley & Sara Mills
6:30 Panel Discussion Begins
7:10 Q&A
7:25 Closing

Questions for Panelists + Answers
1) What breeds did you choose for this garden and why?

Phil – Americana, which has gold feathers, green eggs. Bard Rock, which has black and white stripes, a little bossy, smart. Actually chose brands based on what Callahan’s had at the time. Cuckoo Morans get broody (in egg-incubating mode) for too long.
Ila – Can order chickens to be sent in from hatcheries like McMurry. Book Moore Feed Store is another place to purchase chicks. One reason to get a variety of chicken breeds is for a variety of eggs. Buff Orpingtons are my #1 breed. They’re desirable because they have a sweet disposition, they’re god layers, they’re kid-friendly. But they’re short-lived.
Michelle – Every chicken keeper has different, favorite breeds.4

Phil/Sara – All birds at Deep Eddy CG are both meat and egg birds – dual birds. This can be good for community gardens, because meat birds are heavier, which means that they can’t fly as easily, and therefore they can’t escape and get to crops as easily as lighter birds might.

Phil – Get multiple chickens of each breed, birds of the same breed identify with each other, keep each other company.
Ila – With some birds, it’s easy to determine the sex, some are not. You can end up with a rooster. Some times are sex-linked (meaning sex is linked to a visible characteristic like color), so all are female. Good choices for breeds if you never want a rooster.

2) How did you decide on a coop design? We reframed question: What are some things to look for in a good coop design?

Sara/Phil- Deep Eddy coop was a gift. Pre-fabricated, moved it to the garden. Coops can be moved. This one is actually two sections that are combined/expanded. Expanded the original coop to be able to accommodate around 20 chickens. With this number of chickens, each day, whoever’s turn it is to take home eggs gets to take a good number.

Good to have trees overhead, to protect chickens from hawks. Need places for chickens to roost up off the ground. Need sufficient nesting boxes for all the chickens. Have 6 boxes for their flock. 1 or 2 would suffice for a smaller flock.

Extend coop mesh 6 to 8 inches down the into ground to prevent animal predators from digging down and getting in. Can also reinforce coop edges with bricks, wood, to deter predators.

Expansion of Deep Eddy coop allowed for addition of younger chicks. These must be separated from older chickens at first, or older chickens will kill them (dominance). Little chicks also need to be separated because they eat separate, super nutritious food.

Ensure sufficient air circulation. Insulate for winter cold. Can use moving blankets hung on walls. Have back-up water supply, for in case one source gets tipped over. This is especially important in summertime.

Ila – Summer is harder than winter on chickens. They cool off by standing in water. At Sunshine, they have a misting system. Lowers temperature in coop by about 8 degrees.

Michelle – Use ½-inch hardware cloth, not chicken wire, for coop mesh. This is more durable, rust-resistant, and raccoon-resistant. Raccoons can stretch chicken wire, fit their hands in, grab chickens.

Phil – Place coop close to the compost pile. Chickens love to peck bugs out of compost piles. At a community garden, visits to compost pile must be supervised, otherwise chickens might venture into plots and damage people’s crops.

Participant question: How do you manage quantity of chicken poop, fact that it attracts flies?

Michelle/Phil- Chickens poop at night, mostly, while they sleep. Use leaf litter (brown/carbon-rich compost component)to complement poop (green/nitrogen-rich component); this creates compost.

Have a drawer under roosting area that facilitates easy removal of poop to compost pile.

Can put poop in buckets and let it dry for several months, then add it to the garden. About 6 months is sufficient.

3) Any lessons learned in putting together your chicken team? – Modified question: How does Deep Eddy Coop Co-op work?

Sara – Over a 2-week span, each member of the chicken co-op has a day when they care for the chickens, and they get the eggs on those days. Once a month, one person has the job of doing a deeper cleaning (cleaning perches, etc.). Have a log that co-op members write in each time they care for the chickens. There’s a place to indicate that they’ve fed, watered, let out the chickens, the number of eggs harvested, and any comments, for example, about the health of the chickens.

There is a Google Group for communication about the coop. All co-op members are pre-existing Deep Eddy gardeners, i.e., you have to already be a gardener at Deep Eddy in order to join the chicken co-op. Currently, have 14 members.

One one day, can get anywhere from 6 to 20 eggs.

Part of daily routine is to count the chickens. Have to be accountable for them.

Ila – Some people have to take on more responsibility. Chickens need care – not like cats. Can’t fend for themselves — they’re delicate creatures. Ila tends chickens at Sunshine Community Garden, where coop is twice as big as Deep Eddy’s.

Question from participant – Would a motion light work well to deter raccoons? Had a massacre at Gullett Elementary coop.

Sara – Urban raccoons are not going to be deterred/surprised by light. Better to focus on security of coop.

Michelle – Night Guard solar lights are supposed to look like a predator. Could try that.

Paid for construction of coop/start-up costs with gift from Deep Eddy’s general garden fund. Coop’s ongoing costs are met via dues, which co-op members pay over and above basic garden membership fees.

4) How do you handle chicken “retirement”?

Ila – At Sunshine, when die, we bury them. Keep non-laying hens, don’t kill them when they are old and stop laying. It’s tough, because have around 40 chickens, many no longer laying, or laying sporadically.

Phil – At Deep Eddy, have had chickens for 3 years. Have buried chickens that have died in the wooded area by the garden. In bylaws of the garden/co-op, chickens are to leave the garden after their 4th birthday. This will be in 2017. Will put chickens up for adoption. Don’t plan to kill them.

Michelle/Phil – Reasons not to kill them: They eat bugs, do awesome things for the compost (scratch, turn, poop).

5) How do you handle broody chickens?

“Getting broody” refers to the instinct to incubate eggs. Can be brought on by stress, weather. Chickens will sit for long periods of time not drinking or eating enough. Have to pull them out of broodiness, by literally pulling them out of the coop, sometimes closing the doors so they can’t get in. Sometimes, have to go home with a co-op member in the “broody kennel” (a dog kennel). Have to keep an eye on them.

Also use the kennel to raise chicks.

Chickens have poor night vision. Put themselves to bed when it gets dark. Can’t see predators. Roosters are much more alert than hens, much more aware of danger. Can be a valuable addition to the flock for this reason.

6) Any other best practices you would suggest knowing about?

Ila – I like to bring special treats to the chickens- damaged produce from the garden. Some things are poisonous to them, for example, all nightshade leaves (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants). Love anything with seeds. Even old (untreated) seed packets.

PUt in place methods to screen for health issues. Chickens can get infections. There’s a type of foot infection called “bumblefoot”. Internet forums exist with instructions on how to treat various types of injuries/illnesses before they become advanced.

Michelle – Chicken daycare rules – same thing happens with chicken coops as what happens at daycares: chickens will develop immunity to the illnesses in their coop, but not have immunity to illnesses that exist in other coops. So, introducing germs from one coop to another can result in sick chickens. Sanitation is way to avoid this: scrub off your shoes with a mild vinegar solution and a scrub brush before entering a coop area.

General Q & A
Q: Is it true that what chickens eat affects the color of their eggs?
A: Can use mild peppers to make yolks red. Supposedly, feeding chickens purslane creates deeper, richer yellow yolks.

Q: Have a chick that seems like it’s a rooster. Bigger, spot on its head. How can we tell?
A: When it starts crowing or laying–that’s the final determination. There are signs that a chick is a rooster that you can observe sooner, though. Before they crow, roosters start to strut. Also, when they start crowing, they sound funny while they learn.

Alternate Date, Location for September CACG Meeting: 9/27/16 at Deep Eddy Community Garden

Join us for this another Coalition of Austin Community Gardens panel discussion on alternate date Tuesday, September 27th, from 6:00-7:30pm . The topic is Raising Poultry at Community Gardens. This event replaces the regularly-scheduled September CACG meeting, which would land on the third Tuesday of the month, 9/20/16.

Chickens enhance food gardens enormously: they help with pest control, provide an abundant source of organic fertilizer, and delight the gardener with a steady supply of fresh eggs. Learn how to bring these benefits to your community garden from Michelle Hernandez, founder of the Funky Chicken Coop Tour and Phil Wiley, Sara Mills, Flo Rice, and Ila Falvey, all of whom manage chicken coops at community gardens.

Panelists include:

  • Michelle Hernandez, Austin’s Funky Chicken Coop Tour, Austin Urban Poultry Meet-Up
  • Phil Wiley, Deep Eddy Community Garden
  • Sara Mills, Deep Eddy Community Garden
  • Flo Rice, Deep Eddy Community Garden
  • Ila Falvey, Sunshine Community Garden

Registration not required and as always, the discussion is free.

When: Tuesday, September 27th, from 6-:30pm

Where: Deep Eddy Community Garden 300 1/2 Atlanta, Austin, TX 78703

Directions & Parking Instructions: Park on the street near the garden.

Facebook invitation: https://www.facebook.com/events/290897497936188/

A couple of notes: Seating is limited, so please bring your own chair. To protect the health of the Deep Eddy’s chickens, we’ll have a shoe-washing station set up. Please wear shoes with soles that you’re okay with scrubbing with a mild vinegar solution.

Thank you! Please help spread the word!