We have been getting a lot of questions about the "next step" of school gardens.. raising poultry or bees in your school garden. Below are some resources we've compiled to help you out!
Oregon "Chicken and Bee" school list (updated 11/19/18). This is a list compiled of all the schools in Oregon that currently raise chickens and bees.
As of now we have 29 schools that raise chickens, and 42 schools that raise bees! It's a good support group to ask each other questions, and find out what has worked with folks who have gone through this before!
Email Rick Sherman if you'd like to start raising chickens or bees at your school, so the Oregon Farm to School program can support you and add you to the list!
Chickens are surprisingly easy to raise! They really take care of themselves, and I've found they are easier to raise than dogs & cats! Chickens are an easy addition to a school garden environment, and I've even seen them at an urban school in Portland strutting around near the sidewalk. Considerations should be made to make a strong coop and run for them for safety from predators. The other main thing is that kids should wash thier hands after handling chickens or cleaning the coop.
If interested in raising a flock at your school if it's in "city limits," you should first check your local town ordinance. Most towns allow small flocks to be raised in city limits. For instance, the town I live in allows you to raise up to 12 chickens. My town has a restriction on "loud animals" which would not allow me to raise roosters!
Here is a guide to raising chickens in school gardens by our friends in Washington DC that outlines the process safely.
Once you start raising a lot of chickens, it may be a good idea to keep a chicken log to track issues you have with them, including when they were born, medical issues or whatever.
Here are the Denver Public Schools protocols for raising poultry.
10 mistakes folks make when making chicken coops
Do you want to use eggs in your cafeteria? Before you start down this road, here is a handout that lays out the exact things needed in order to do this legally. It's recommended that if you raise chickens, it's easiest to do so as a demonstration project and give away the eggs.
Need a support group? BackyardChickens is one of the best web sites I've seen. They have forums with tons of topics, plus countless galleries of pictures of different breeds, coops and runs.
A good starter book is "A Chicken in Every Yard" (available on amazon, of course) written by the folks at the Urban Farm Store in Portland. In fact, if you're in Portland, visit this store on 1108 SE 9th Ave, as they are dedicated to backyard farming and are a great source for chicks and supplies and advice.
One of the best bee plans I've ever seen is done by Portland State University. It looks like they've anticipated any possible problem, and it would be a good place to look when you're designing your program. They have a managing risk worksheet, maintenance calendar, standard operating procedures and more. See their five year plan here.
Bees in the school garden, by Edible Schoolyard, Berkely CA
Whole Kids Foundation Honey Bee Grant Program: Although the 2017 grant is closed, their website shown here has many resources such as honey bee curriculum, activities, and much more. If you have a question, you can literally search for a specific issue, be it a specific chicken health problem or how to build a feeder, and you can get help.