Poultry for the people

Backyard chickeners take note: There’s a new club in town. The Asheville Chicken Club ‘Coq au Vin’ will combine practical, chicken-raising how-to with French cooking skills. The club will have its first meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, during which members will learn a wide range of information about raising chickens at home.

Jill Prescott started the club as an extension of her own interest in backyard chickens and teaching, she says. Prescott wanted to create a forum where people could learn how to raise chickens successfully, with an emphasis on providing a nurturing and healthy home for the birds.

Prescott says attending one of the group’s classes in person, rather than reading a book or doing online research, gives aspiring chicken owners a leg up when it comes to starting their own flock. “It's a lot easier to be able to ask questions instead of wondering what the answer is if you read something online,” she says.

There are many things to consider before getting a new flock, says Prescott. Selecting a breed, setting up a coop and finding the right feed take planning. “They're fragile little birds and they need proper care,” Prescott says. “It's not something you can just put outside and expect to have eggs from them.” Raising poultry can be little daunting to someone who is new to backyard animals, but the Asheville Chicken Club aims to help anyone with an interest in starting a flock.

The group’s first meeting will be held at LOTUS, a new urban farm and garden supply shop in West Asheville that specializes in organic feed, aquaponics and other sustainable gardening equipment. The class will discuss ways to care for chicks, what to feed adult chickens and how to abide by city regulations.

There are many reasons someone would want to add chickens to their home. "It's a huge benefit for families to be able to have fresh eggs,” Prescott says. “I think it's great if you have kids as well." Having chickens that follow you around the yard can be just as rewarding as eggs in the skillet a few mornings a week.

If your new chickens produce more eggs than you can handle, the Asheville Chicken Club has some ideas. Prescott, who founded the Ecole de Cuisine cooking school in Wisconsin, hosted a nationally syndicated PBS show and authored a cookbook, is well-versed in the incredible edible egg. As part of the club’s activities, Prescott will present a cooking class in March on "all things sweet and savory that have to do with good fresh eggs." Expect to see demonstrations of everything from crème brulée to hollandaise sauce.

The club’s first meeting will focus on chicken care, coops and feed. It will be held Tuesday, Feb. 11, from 6:30-9 p.m. at LOTUS. The event is free and registration is required by emailing asheville.chicken.club@gmail.com or calling 707-260-4002.

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