2014 Urban Livestock Expo: Saturday February 22, 10AM-1PM

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 URBAN LIVESTOCK EXPO GATHERS CITY CRITTER KEEPERS

Angelic Organics Learning Center, Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA), and the Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts again present the Urban Livestock Expo on February 22, 2014 from 10AM to 1PM at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W 111th Street in Chicago.

The Expo offers the chance to network with new and experienced urban livestock keepers and learn about raising chickens/poultry, bees, goats, and rabbits in the city. The Expo’s focus is raising animals responsibly in backyards, with representatives of many urban livestock groups, projects, and businesses on hand to tell visitors about opportunities for learning, visits, apprenticeships, sources of supplies, networking, and more.

Participants include new and experienced livestock keepers, experienced instructors, organized networks like the Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts, Windy City Bees, and the Goat Guardians Guild; organizations that support, train and advise on livestock topics; and businesses that provide supplies and services to people keeping livestock in the city.

Brief overviews of each “critter group” (chickens, bees, goats, rabbits) start at 10:15AM. Participants then choose an intensive session to attend at 11:15AM. The intensive sessions will highlight primary issues to consider before keeping livestock in the city; for example, quality housing and care, sources of food and supplies, manure management, other people’s perceptions and fears, and biological lifecycles. Presenters include Jen Murtoff, Abe Lentner, Corey Gilson, Tristan Beache, Michael Thompson, Greg Lane, Deborah Niemann, and Carolyn Ioder.

**Admission is FREE, but tax-deductible donations of any amount are welcome and help support this program and its organizers. Donations can be made in person at the Expo, on the Learning Center’s website (type Livestock Expo in the additional comments box), or by check to Angelic Organics Learning Center (with “Livestock Expo” in the memo line, mail to 1547 Rockton Rd, Caledonia, IL 61011).

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From 12:30-1PM, all can mingle and browse information tables, and tour CHAS’s livestock barn and aquaponics room.

The goals of the Expo are to foster the health and well being of people and animals, to integrate livestock into ecological urban lifestyles, and to increase local food security, starting in our backyards.

Well-maintained and designed, integrated systems use and recycle resources better and produce food. Many people are creatively weaving together food gardens, livestock, composting, and water cycling in small and well-coordinated backyard systems for the good of health and the environment.

Martha Boyd, Angelic Organic Learning Center’s Program Director in Chicago, notes that there is a growing movement of people interested in urban livestock keeping. She moderates the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts google group with nearly 500 members, many of whom have chickens (and ducks, quail, and turkeys!) in the city and suburbs.

The Learning Center offers Basic Backyard Chicken Care workshops in March and November. Since 2007, when they helped to prevent a ban on backyard chickens in Chicago, approximately 300 people have taken the workshop. Boyd states, “We believe if we promote urban livestock, we must also teach and organize to ensure high standards and healthy animals.”

She explains, “As soon as you acquire livestock, you become an ambassador, the face of urban livestock for the people that encounter you. They will use you as their reference point, good or bad. ‘Winging it’ isn’t fair to the livestock we keep, to our neighbors, or to the staff responsible for city services. Organized groups with expertise can serve as sources of information, guidance, and good examples of best practices.”

Angelic Organics Learning Center helps rural and urban people build healthy local food systems, as educational nonprofit partner to Angelic Organics, a Biodynamic CSA farm. The Advocates for Urban Agriculture is a coalition of practitioners working together to increase and advance urban agriculture in Chicagoland. The Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts are a growing network sharing advice, information, and resources about backyard poultry keeping.

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