Urban Agriculture Center teaches residents to build chicken coops

Sunday, March 28, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
From left, Bobby Johnson, Laurie Florio and Jaye Wright construct a chicken coop Saturday at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture's workshop. The coop was built with wood from an old deck and scrap metal that was found on Paris Road.

COLUMBIA — As Jaye Wright and Laurie Florio walked up the driveway to the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, Billy Froescher asked them, "You here to get dirty?"

"Oh yeah!" Wright answered.

Both Wright and Florio were building a chicken coop for the first time, but so was Froescher, who led the Saturday workshop on building coops for urban hens. Froescher was no stranger to construction, but he had not built a coop before.

In February, the City Council passed an ordinance allowing city residents to keep chickens in their backyards.

Froescher modified a design called "The Movable Coop" from Organic Gardening magazine for the workshop. He said he wanted to use a basic design that required a minimal amount of scrap wood.

The coop design was simple enough for workshop attendees to construct, even for those with limited building experience. Brian Bowles, one of the participants, said the experience was unfamiliar to him, but he plans to build a coop when he and his family get hens for their Old Southwest home in about a month.

Florio, another Columbia resident planning to buy hens, said she also is planning to build a coop.

"It seems very doable," she said.

Around six attendees sawed and drilled to construct the frame of the chicken coop as Froescher explained how he and other workers with the agricultural center rely on scrap wood and other used materials for their building projects.

"This is my parents' old deck," Froescher said as he held up a two-by-four, lining it up to connect the three A-frames the group had built to provide the basic structure of the coop.

As Froescher unrolled the green tin roofing along the top of the coop, he described finding the material on the side of Paris Road and picking it up, knowing he'd find a use for it later.

Froescher said the only items purchased to build the coop were the screws and chicken wire.

"We're saving ourselves probably $100 at least in wood," he said.


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