Sept. 29, 2014. Hospitality House is hosting an urban chicken coop design competition that will house up to twelve egg-laying hens in an expansion of the community garden project. This structure will serve as a model for teaching principles of sustainability and simple agricultural techniques for the program’s ever-expanding community gardens. Additionally, the new “residents” that will inhabit the coop, being gifted by Ashe County farmer Denny Babcock, will be therapeutic for residents and community volunteers.
Open to anyone, the design competition seeks innovative submissions designed to be aesthetically pleasing, durable, functional and accessible for novice and expert farmers alike. Contest guidelines and detailed entry information are available on Hospitality House’s website www.HospHouse.org and Facebook page www.Facebook.com/HospHouse. All submissions must be received by 5pm on Tuesday, October 14th. The winner will receive a $50 gift card from a local business; an award certificate and permanent recognition plaque affixed to the coop.
Sponsored by High Country Local First, construction of the winning design will be a team effort combining Hospitality House residents, community volunteers, Blue Ridge Seeds of Change and Watauga Cooperative Extension. Workshops, focusing on coop construction and care for raising chickens, will be held at Hospitality House on October 18th and October 25th from 9am to 3pm. The workshops will be led by Hospitality House garden coordinator Sam Brown with Babcock, and other High Country farmers, offering their expertise and sharing their knowledge. There will be a “coop-warming” party on November 1st to welcome the new arrivals and to celebrate the completion of the project and expansion of the community gardens.
Construction materials will be bought using contributions from High Country Local First and private donors. Hospitality House hopes to gain support from Appalachian State University and the citizens of the High Country in this effort to further connect farmers to other members of the community and to educate people about the importance of where their food comes from.
The Hospitality House Community Gardens, funded by Heifer International Seeds of Change Initiative and Nourishing NC, consists of thirty-two raised beds, two hoop houses, a mixed berry patch and a small orchard of apple, pear and fig trees. The gardens were created to increase access to fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs for the Bread of Life Food and Nutrition programs operated by Hospitality House. Residents and volunteers work together with Brown to prepare the gardens in spring and maintain them throughout the summer and into fall. The garden is grown using organic methods and is a key part of Hospitality House’s commitment to the sustainability of life, community and environment.
The community gardens project also includes garden nutrition classes, where items from the garden are harvested, discussed, prepared and eaten; weekly workshops on topics like composting, seeding, fall planting and lettuce boxes; as well as, children’s gardening curriculum where kids learn about square-gardening, healthy eating, composting and growing seedlings.