Monday, 2 July 2012

M. Aimé Lafleur and His Hens: an Adventure in Urban Agriculture

Jeanne and I have checked out an urban henhouse the last couple of Saturdays, and today I went by to take a few pictures. It's in the heart of Piccola Italia, or Little Italy. right next to a community center that was formerly a church.  She's been somewhat interested in the birds, although the swings and slides in the nearby playground have been more of an attraction. 

But I wanted to learn more, and luckily I met the man in charge, Monsieur Aimé Lafleur (not his real name, but a nom de poulailler that means something like "Likes Flowers")  He tends to the three Chantecler hens (a white heritage breed developed in Quebec) and two red-brown ones whose breed I don't know.

The birds are a great way to show neighborhood children where their food comes from, and indeed they get to help take care of them.  M. Lafleur does the cleaning, feeding, watering and tending three times a day, but the kids, including some little ones from the day care centre next door, take a lot of responsiblity.

The project is in its fourth year: the hen house is constructed snugly enough that the Chanteclers can stay there until temperatures reach near the place where Fahrenheit and Celsuis come together, around minus 20.  To be on the safe side, though, the hens spend part of the winter in the barn of a retired farmer outside Montreal.

M. Lafleur also runs two community gardens and a project which collects left over food once a week from the Jean Talon Market, just a few blocks away.  The idea is to improve available food and eating habits for the folks in the neighborhood.

There will be an open house for neighborhood kids in the next few weeks: "Bring your granddaughter over," he told me. 

Sure will...

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