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Good Coops Make Good Neighbors, Better EggsPrint

Food & Farming | July 27, 2010 | By Sharron and Paul May

Joe Cissell designed the artwork adorning the Eggmobile, a chicken coop on wheels built by Benzie County residents to support two local farm-to-school programs.

Honk if you see the Eggmobile!

The very colorful Farm-to-School Eggmobile is now in place and in action. It’s parked in a pasture leased by The May Farm, on the southwest corner of Graves and Lobb Roads, near Frankfort, and its producing top quality, farm-fresh eggs for our county’s school children.

What exactly is an Eggmobile? It’s essentially a chicken coop on wheels, and a great way to move our hens around to another fresh, un-pecked pasture every few days so that they have steady access to the foods they really like-grass and bugs.

Safely confined and defended against predators by a solar-charged electric fence, the chickens go wherever the Eggmobile does, and their pecking, munching, and pooping regenerate rather than deplete the land-while skyrocketing the nutritional contents of their eggs.

In fact, the eggs of chickens raised on pastureland, compared to conventional confinement, have three times the omega-3, twice the vitamin E, and 40 percent more vitamin A, according to a Pennsylvania State University study.

Pastured chickens are just one component of our farm’s innovative rotational grazing system for cows, sheep, laying hens, and broiler chickens, affectionately known as “The Flerd”.

And our plan is working! The hens are currently producing eggs for the USDA-sponsored “Benzie County Kids Eat” program, serving 500 children daily at six locations. During the school year the hens supply farm-to-school eggs for Frankfort and Benzie Schools.

The Eggmobile is all about neighborliness: It demonstrates our community’s willingness to cooperate and blaze new trails to give all children in Benzie County equal access to the best possible nutrition and health.

In particular, we want to thank the folks who helped us either raise money or actually build our very cool chicken coupe.

So, thank you, Paul Oliver Auxiliary and all those who participated in the Community Connections Breakfast in May-you helped us cover the cost of construction and paint supplies.

And thank you, SEEDS Youth Corps, the young people who created the Eggmobile under the guidance of Thomas Hirsch, of Bungalow Builders.

And a special thank you to Joe Cissell, who designed the colorful artwork, and the 4H Summer Club, led by Randi Stoltz, who did the actual painting.

We also want to thank all of you other folks who helped out along the way: Suz McLaughlin, Jim Barnes, Sarah Louisignau, Sloane Wilkins, Thelma Novak-Ryder, the American Legion Hall, Barb Wentzloff, and all those who participated in the Community Connections Breakfast.

And big thanks to the two people who are making farm-to-school happen in Benzie-Benzie Central Schools and Frankfort Elberta Schools Food Director Renee DeWindt, and Frankfort Elberta Superintendent Tom Stobie.

Sharon and Paul May operate The May Farm, near Frankfort, Michigan.