Young farmers share experiences at Small Farm Trade Show and Conference

Friday, November 6, 2009 | 7:46 p.m. CST; updated 9:35 p.m. CST, Friday, November 6, 2009
Marley Sukenik, 8, and her mother, Cindy Garber, after giving their presentation, "Not Just Chickens," at the Small Farm Trade Show and Conference.

An audience at the Small Farm Trade Show and Conference waited to hear about chickens.

Eight-year-old Marley Sukenik nervously took the podium around 3:30 p.m.

“She was very involved with the production,” Sukenik’s mother, Cindy Garber, said. “I don’t think the presentation is what she wants to do.”

On Friday, Sukenik and her mother presented “Not Just Chickens,” which explained how they used grant money from the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

Youth grants, such as the one Sukenik received, can offer up to $400 for on-farm research, demonstration or education projects involving sustainable agriculture for those ages 8 to 18.

With her grant, Sukenik and Garber, both of Owosso, Mich., raised 12 goslings. Last week, they had seven slaughtered. Garber hopes to mate the remaining five so the project can continue next year. But they couldn't determine the sex of the geese.

“I’m hoping the law of averages will give us some of both,” Garber said.

The Durling sisters of Perry, Mich. — AnnaLiese, 18; Esther, 16; and Ellen, 10 — will present their grant project, “Sustainable Backyard Egg Production: a 9-year-old’s Perspective,” at the Farmers Forum on Saturday.

“The whole idea was to raise chickens in a way that would be simple enough that a 9-year-old could take care of them and raise them in a backyard,” AnnaLiese said.

AnnaLiese and Esther wanted to teach their sister to care for chickens, even though the family only lives on one acre of land.

“You don’t really need a full acre,” Esther said. “You probably only need a half of an acre.”

The family had raised chickens in the past but used the project as a venue to get the youngest member of the family involved. The grant covered the initial costs, but the sisters tried to develop a way for Ellen to make a profit.

In the past, the sisters used the money raised from egg farming to purchase a trampoline. Ellen hopes to see a profit within a few months.

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