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Raising Chickens in the City

Many children in large cities don’t have a chance to engage in more rural-like experiences, such as raising chickens, but one city school is giving its students just that opportunity.

The Suder Montessori Magnet School, located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, has a garden named the Peace Garden, where students learn about raising chickens.

“They learn what’s appropriate with it, how to touch animals, and things like that so it’s just been a great process for many of the children,” said Karen Jones, a teacher at the school.

The school welcomed the chickens to Peace Garden in the fall from a parent who donated the fowl as well as a coop and has since received positive reactions.

The project is organized by a garden committee that gets both faculty and families involved. The school’s principal, Alexander Phillips, says the neighbors don’t mind and the school even gives them some eggs the chickens lay.

Jones said the students have a farm stand, which they run before and after school. They sell not only the eggs but also produce from the garden to parents and neighbors. Money from produce sales goes to charities of the students’ choice and proceeds from egg sales goes back to the school for costs associated with raising the chickens.

Another teacher, Katy Gorzen, said she plans on having her students out in the garden a few times a week with the weather getting warmer, and added the garden also provides traditional educational opportunities, with groups of parents organizing lessons where the students look for certain things and do math problems.

Jones said schools should look into similar programs and said she feels this is an amazing program that gets the students excited about learning.

“It shows them how to give back to the earth and take care of it,” Jones said. “It’s just been pretty awesome to see that.”

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