During my brief visit to Olympia, I stayed at Fertile Ground, a beautiful b&b right next to the public library where I gave my talk. Fertile Ground also serves as a hub for urban ag, art, and community building.
A small chicken pen sits next to the sidewalk, with hens scratching away within sight of the multistory office buildings and parking lots near downtown. The stroke of genius, though, is the chicken feed dispenser, right there on the sidewalk. Put in your quarter, turn the dial, and get a handful of feed to throw to the hens.
There is something very rewarding about getting a handful of grain for your quarter, then tossing it to the hens (who know very well what is coming when someone approaches the dispenser). Like Vegas slot-machines, but the payoff is three hens in a row — winner!
I talked to Gail at Fertile Ground about this project of hers. Apparently, local kids love to put in their change and feed the birds. For me, this was the crowning achievement of the project: kids using quarters to get bird seed instead of sugary gumballs; kids playing Happy Birds (feathery real!) instead of Angry Birds (pixely fake!); and kids able to get a smile during their walk home.
And for when these hens “retire”… a CREAMED-corn dispenser. :)
Creamed corn and chicken…this could go horribly wrong: http://southernfood.about.com/od/gritsrecipes/r/bln128.htm