Talking chicken, bees, and biod

As some of you know, I’m lucky to be involved with the most bad-ass group of women, the biodevas of the Biofuel Oasis. We’ve been slinging biod in Berkeley, CA since 2003, and now our dreams of becoming an urban farming headquarters is coming true.

Many years ago, we all talked about how we really wanted to diversify and sell something in addition to biodiesel. Healthy versions of gas station snacks didn’t seem radical enough. But urban farming supplies did. It fits into the whole model of DIY empowerment, of questioning where everything comes from, and learning new things. We’re now selling rabbit feed, chick starter, beekeeping supplies, and straw bales. And although we were a bit timid at first, it’s becoming clear that people really do want these things in an urban setting. We sold out of our beekeeping supplies within a month! We have new customers every day who want to buy high-quality, local, organic animal feeds and grains. It’s so fun.

And now we’re taking it to the next level: classes.Ā  The first one, Backyard Chickens 101, will be held July 26, 10-1 and will be taught by yours truly. I’m going to cover coop building, nutrition, city ordinances, chick care, health, and troubleshooting. We’re also bringing egg-y snacks! The class costs $25, but if that’s too expensive, we were blessed with a Rainbow Grocery Coop grant to offer scholarships–just call the Oasis (510.665.5509) and ask about signing up for the scholarship. Otherwise, you can sign up herechickensinthehouse.

The following month Jennifer Radtke is teaching a beekeeping class, and then a biodiesel home-brew class. Check it out, and take food production into your own hands.

16 responses to “Talking chicken, bees, and biod

  1. What a great idea, Novella! Our chickens are doing well…just started laying! (Well, one of them, anyway.) But can you believe that I can’t find organic chicken feed anywhere in NM? How is that possible? Somehow, it seems that it should be at least as available in a pretty agricultural state as it is in Berkeley! šŸ™‚

  2. i am loving your book and now classes and supplies! i always seem to live on the wrong coast…looking forward to more of your blog…

  3. Welcome back from your tour. I wish I could have seen you in person. Unfortunately, I’m on the other coast. But I had your book to keep me occupied. Every available moment I’ve been reading it. You inspire me and make me think I’m not so crazy for wanting to “go back to the land”. I wish you continued great success.

  4. You’re awesome.

  5. Sporting Days

    This is a fantastic idea that borders on brilliant. I can easily see a HUGE demand for urban farm supplies — tools, gardening equipment, feed, waterers, nest boxes, heirloom seeds, etc.

    How about ordering chicks every spring like the rural feed stores — that would really bring folks into the shop, perhaps harder to find heritage breeds?

    Kind of a modern-day feed store for urban and suburban folks. I will definitely be by to pick up some organic chicken feed next time I’m in Berkeley.

  6. This sounds great, Novella. It’s awesome to see a gas station become a community resource!

  7. Gosh, I have thought about how I wish there was a good farm and ranch supply store in Eagle, CO. We have to drive almost an hour to Carbondale, CO to get chicken feed and certified straw bales but the “Roaring Fork Co-op “is a fascinating store. I think your idea of adding such supplies to your biodiesel station was a natural! One can buy biodiesel fuel at the “Catherine” store in Carbondale CO.
    Good for you and may your business thrive!

  8. Heard your interview on NPR y’day, while out in my milking parlor, milking my goats – scribbled what I could catch of your book & name on a piece of chicken-poop-&-who-knows-what-else encrusted feed bag, so I could find your blog – awesome! Can’t wait to get time to sit down & pore over everything. . . . &, maybe even post a little knowitallish .02 stuff, here & there. (into the self-sufficiency/sustainable farming thing, too) Before I DO do so, however – gotta ask: do you/yours look askance at “rural” farmer chicks like moi? šŸ˜€

  9. Have you played around with making your own chicken feed from whole grains? I’ve got a couple of recipes, will try them next spring probably. I’m wondering if hooking a hand cranked food mill to my cordless drill will crack the corn…
    Cheers, Heidi

  10. Romy Douglass

    hey novella,
    after reading your book, i realized i had teeny baby plums growing in my backyard (duh) and picked and preserved them. i’m looking forward to your chicken class on sunday!

  11. ghosttownfarm

    hey heidi;
    yeah, for awhile there i was sprouting wheat for the chickens. it was pretty cool, they loved it better than chicken feed. now they get only a little pellets and mostly scraps and of course, the left over grains from the goats. since they goats eat organic whole corn, oats, and barley, i’m thinking about sprouting some for the chickens again.

  12. Enjoyed your book so much Novella! Would you consider making these classes available online? I would love to have the opportunity to learn from an online class. I’ve been pretty disgusted about not being able to keep the animals that I want (had to give away my hens), but you’ve given me hope again!!

  13. ghosttownfarm

    hi becky;
    where do you live? i might be able to hit your town and teach a class there on my october farm city tour…

  14. We’re in Silver Spring, MD, in the D.C. suburbs. Please let me know if you’re ever in our neck of the woods!

  15. Hi Novella,

    My friend Marybeth bought me your book from her brother and my dear friend Patrick Marks’ store “The Green Arcade” in S.F. Sorry to have missed you there.
    I just wanted to let you know that your book made me smile and almost cry a few times.
    I’m a crazy cook and wannabee farmer wondering if i’m getting too old for more of this hard work – shit , you never once mentioned your back hurting. Anyway, I was very inspired and am working on the lady who owns my house to let me raise chickens. Hope to make it to your generous event at the end of August.

  16. Moon Over Martinborough

    The backyard chicken class is a great idea. I could have used something like that when my partner and I moved to rural New Zealand (from Chicago, via Tokyo) and started learning about rural life. Mostly our neighbors have been teaching us. We often joke that we’d be dead in a corner if it weren’t for our neighbors!

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