By Lauren Gucik, Solano Gardens

Jun 16, 2023

Violette Kyse leads an in-person class on chicken care for the families receiving chickens through the program

Solano Gardens works to increase in-county food production, supporting communities so that they can grow and process their own food and help eliminate food insecurity. Building community health and wealth and creating systems of care that are culturally responsive are at the heart of these efforts. Our garden and culinary philosophies revolve around celebrating local, seasonal and culturally uplifting foods grown in ecologically regenerative ways.

For many families in Solano County, protein and nutrients are found not only in plant-based options like legumes but also in animal products, like eggs, honey or meat. In an effort to diversify the types of food we help local residents produce, we connected with six families to pilot a Chicken Steward program. Each family participated in a hands-on class in Vallejo, assembled their chicken coops at home, and learned about and committed to the responsibility of caring for three birds. They agreed to provide a clean and humane environment for the birds, food and water, and ongoing care. After months of preparation, they each received three 10-week-old pullets, a combination of either Speckled Sussex, Salmon Faverolle and/or a Bielefelder.

Chickens on their way to their new homes

The purpose of this program was to provide residents with the supplies and knowledge they need to care for chickens that will provide food for their communities. A bird can lay quite a few eggs over the course of its lifetime and offer an opportunity for companionship and community connection. The Solano Gardens team estimates that each chicken will provide its family with around 260 eggs (about 22 dozen) over the next five years. Each of these families were very excited to bring their bids home, start their journeys and hold power for themselves in sustaining their families’ foodways. If you are interested in stewarding chickens at your home or community garden, check out our English-language Chicken Care Sheet here and Chicken Resource Guide here and both documents in Spanish here.

A Statement of Gratitude

With any pilot program there is much to figure out. Without the support of many individuals this pilot would not have been nearly as successful. A special thank you to:

    • The families who choose to walk this path with and give us the opportunity to set up the legal and logistical framework to start this program and replicate it in the future;
    • The farmer who raised these chickens for us, and the people who introduced us to the farmer;
    • Our lawyer, without whom we could not have facilitated this resource exchange;
    • The whole community of Chicken Stewards, including our chicken educators, for sharing all your knowledge through conversations, online and in books;
    • Local vendors for the supplies needed to care for the animals;
    • The community gardens that hosted us and the chickens;
    • Solano Public Health, for providing the funding support to make this program happen;
    • And the chickens for providing us with food and joyful interactions.

Solano Gardens is funded by Solano Public Health