Want to Have Chickens in Your Backyard?

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Photo by Khrysti Smyth of Yardbirds Backyard Chickens

Photo by Khrysti Smyth of Yardbirds Backyard Chickens

When you think of the city of Boston, images of brownstones, brick townhouses, beautifully-manicured parks, and tall skycrapers may come to mind. But backyard chickens? Not so much.

Sure, Boston is no stranger to rooftop farming and beekeeping. When Article 89 passed in Boston in late 2013, it made urban farming easier and more accessible for city residents. City dwellers can house chickens in their backyard—roosters (male chickens) are strictly prohibited, but hens (female chickens) are allowed. But even if you were interested in having chickens in your backyard—we’re looking at you Jamaica Plain residents—where would you begin?

Fortunately, there’s help in the form of Green City Growers, a Somerville-based urban farming company doing really unique work around the city, including helping B.Good grow hundreds of pounds of tomatoes on top of a downtown parking garage. Through a partnership with Yardbirds Backyard Chickens (YBC), another Somerville-based company—and one-woman show—the two companies will provide chicken coop installations and chicken keeping services.

“It made sense to model my business after Green City Growers’ success,” says Khrysti Smyth, YBC founder. “It became a question of not if we would partner up, but when.

With the new partnership, Smyth will serve as the “poultry expert” and educational arm of the business, while Green City Growers will provide installations and maintenance services.

Chicken keeping has become quite popular in recent years. Through the “farm-to-table” explosion, people are more conscious of where their food is coming from, and more and more people want to grow their own. Even Hollywood is getting in on the action. Reality star and fashion designer Nicole Ritchie recently highlighted her backyard chickens on her show. But why it is becoming so popular?

“[Raising chickens is] the complete cycle level of any urban garden,” Smyth says. “Now you’re not just composting some of your food scraps, weeds, [and] leaves, you’re feeding them to the birds who are also eating bugs and turning all of it into food and even more extra-rich compost. This is an amazing time for urban agriculture in the Boston area, and I’m really optimistic about the ways we can help revolutionize our global food system by starting right here, literally in our own backyards.”

Still, the operation will remain a residential business, although expanding into the commercial space may be of interest in the future. “We are so excited to be partnering with Yardbirds and diversifying what we provide to our residential clients,” says Jessie Banhazl, CEO and founder of Green City Growers. “This is a natural progression for us with the increasing inclusion of chickens and bees in urban agriculture ordinances. Khrysti provides a wealth of poultry experience and knowledge, and we provide the business structure and acumen to help her business grow and expand.”