Parkway Partners offers help for fowl habits

FOWL HABITS

Parkway Partners will host a free talk by Jeanne Firth, a program specialist with the innovative Grow Dat organization, Saturday at 1137 Baronne St. Gates  will be open from  9 a.m. to noon.

“If I had known how much fun chickens are, I’d have gotten some a lot sooner,’’ said Crystal Heine, who has two hens in her Algiers backyard.

Heine is one of a growing number of city dwellers raising chickens. Already gardening and composting, she decided yard birds were the logical next step.

“I went to a chick swap in Covington in June of 2012 with a friend and my nephew, and came home with two hens,” she said. “Or so we thought. One was a rooster, so I traded him for a hen the same age.”

Recognizing a trend, Parkway Partners will host a free talk by Jeanne Firth, a program specialist with the innovative Grow Dat organization, Saturday at 1137 Baronne St.

Gates will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, and the presentation will be at 10 a.m. Parkway Partners also will sell fresh vegetables, herbs, summer flowers and pine straw mulch in the garden and greenhouse.

Heine has a rare Lavender Orpington that lays large light brown eggs “like the ones in the grocery store,’’ and a Blue Ameraucana whose eggs are light blue.

Her two hens lay more eggs than she can eat, so she shares them with friends and neighbors.

Marshall Gaubert, who lives in Metairie, has 17 chickens in his flock, producing far more eggs than he and his two children can use, so he shares and is very popular with his neighbors.

In addition, he grows a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and several fruit trees, and also practices aquaponics, a system of cultivating fish and plants by recycling water.

Gaubert, who grew up watching his father and grandfather garden, said he enjoys educating people about solar power, recycling and container gardening. He also improves his soil using chicken droppings instead of expensive fertilizer.

His 4-year-old daughter, Makayla Jade, loves to help in the garden and with the chickens, and happily pulls on her special camouflage work boots. His neighbors don’t mind his flock, even to the point that when he got rid of one of his roosters they complained about missing the happy sound of his morning cocka-doodle-doo.

He sheepishly admitted that he named his first two chickens — Sweet Tart and Blackie — but now they’re all just “the chickens.’’

Michael Pelias and his fiancée moved to New Orleans after Katrina, and one of her conditions was that he find her a garden to tend.

Parkway Partners connected them with an abandoned plot on Jackson Avenue at Laurel Street overrun by 6-foot-tall weeds. He and his now wife, Erin, and some 15 neighbors cleared out the weeds, dug out the trash and replanted the raised beds. They cooperate on caring for the flowers, herbs, vegetables, berries and key lime tree.

The spot is among so many churches and crosses that they named the enterprise Resurrection Garden. And then the inevitable happened.

“A few months ago we added chickens,” Pelias said, “so we built a coop and run.”