Matt Humphrey sure isn't chicken to educate people about raising hens in backyard coops.
At Brooksdale Environmental Centre, located on 16th Avenue near the Surrey-Langley border, a pair of workshops this summer are focused on caring for egg-laying hens.
The first event, held July 21, attracted 16 people. A second four-hour workshop will happen on Saturday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The A Rocha environmental stewardship organization was given a community-development grant by Vancity credit union to host the workshops, with a goal of creating 20 backyard chicken flocks across Metro Vancouver, Humphrey said.
Only some municipalities allow for backyard chicken coops. In Surrey, they're OK on lots one acre in size or larger.
"The project, in some ways, is responding to a growing interest and desire we've seen at our centre here, when people come," Humphrey told the Now.
"A lot of people ask about chickens and they want to have chickens, but there's a lot of concerns about it. In once sense, it's just a tool for education for people to learn a bit more, but we're also into equipping people to live more sustainably and in a more intentional relationship with the earth, with creation."
The $35 workshop fee covers chicken care, feeding, coop design, flock health and more. Once participants build their own coop and come up with a management plan, they'll be given three hens to raise and a bag of chicken feed to get them started.
"For the grant purposes," Humphrey said, "we are supplying chickens only to (people) who live in municipalities that have bylaws that allow them, but we are also encouraging folks in other municipalities to come take the workshop and kind of 'chicken at their own risk.'"
He added: "The last thing we want is to send out chickens and have them annoy peoples' neighbours and having the city getting upset. We want it so if we are going to introduce this element into our gardens or yards or wherever, we want it managed well, so most of the training is focused on that. It's about having people think the process through and coming up with a strategy to have the chickens be an asset, not a liability."
A Rocha is an international Christian organization that "engages in scientific research, environmental education and community-based conservation projects." Its national office is at 19353 16th Ave., Surrey, which is also the site of Brooksdale Environmental Centre.
"We have a wide variety of programs focused on sustainability, many of which are family-friendly," Humphrey said.
To get involved in the backyard chickens workshop, call 604-542-9022. More info is online at www.arocha.ca.
Meanwhile, also on Aug. 18, Brooksdale plays host to a Created Life Arts Festival, from 3 to 9 p.m. The event will include outdoor and indoor art exhibits, a concert, film shorts and more. Those who attend are encouraged to "bring a picnic supper and plan to stay for the evening program."
© Copyright 2013