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Tour to Offer a Look at Pittsburgh's Urban Chicken Farmers

Pets are usually thought of in terms of cats or dogs, but one woman is hoping to bring chickens into the mix here in Pittsburgh.

Jody Noble feeds six chickens in her Highland Park backyard — Gregory Peck, Buffy the Worm-Slayer, Attila the Hen, Mother Clucker, Hillary Rodham Chicken and Margaret Hatcher. Noble is hoping to spread the joy of chicken ownership by organizing the 3rd Annual Chicks-in-the-Hood: Pittsburgh Urban Chicken Coop Tour.

The idea for the urban chicken coop tour came in 2011 as a way to showcase the individuality behind Pittsburgh chicken coops and their owners. In its first year, about 450 people took the tour, bringing in $1,200 for a local food bank. This year, Noble is expecting to raise $2,000 for Pittsburgh’s Just Harvest.

This one-day, self-guided urban chicken coop tour is run with help of volunteers from “Pittsburgh Pro-Poultry People,” who want to show how chickens are thriving in the urban environments of the North Side and East End neighborhoods.

Urban chicken farmers will be at each location to educate visitors on keeping and caring for chickens, creating gardens and other backyard sustainability projects.

Noble hopes the tour will inspire people to raise their own feathered friends.

“I just kind of think that it would be a good opportunity for us to share the joys of chicken keeping and encourage other people to make the leap and add a couple chickens to their yard,” Noble said.

Backyard chicken farming is one of the latest fads, Noble said, with retailers like Wal-Mart selling chicken coop supplies.

“I think people are interested in sustainability,” Noble said. “I think people are interested in knowing and understanding where their food came from. I think it’s a good opportunity for people with families to teach their children responsibility and connect where you’re getting some healthy food.”

According to the Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, residents are allowed to house three chickens in a minimum lot of 2,000 square feet, with an additional 1,000 feet needed for each additional chicken.

Tickets are $10. Children under 18 are free.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."