City Chickens: Changing the Landscape of Bed-Stuy

“A lot of kids don’t know about the chicken and the egg – and now, they’re learning about food and starting to understand where it comes from,” says Reverend Robert Ennis Jackson of Bed-Stuy’s Brooklyn Rescue Mission.  

File 1876Having chickens has had a tremendous impact on the neighborhood they roost in, says Reverend Jackson. Both children and seniors alike are fascinated by their chickens – city kids get to interact with them while learning about food, and older folks are reminded of their past. Volunteers of all ages are engaging with their community while working together to care for the chickens.

Brooklyn Rescue Mission is one of 21 community and school groups who have received chickens, coops, and training through Just Food. Learn more about Brooklyn Rescue Mission and their work and donate to Just Food’s City Chicken Campaign today to help more communities launch their own projects. 

Brooklyn Rescue Mission built their chicken coop at Bedford-Stuyvesant Farm in 2011, thanks to the support of Just Food’s City Chicken Project. A majority of the fresh eggs are distributed to their food pantry clients, which gives families in need a fresh, healthy source of protein. 

Reverend Jackson has made quite an impact on the NYC food system. He is co-founder of Brooklyn Rescue Mission, Urban Heritage Center, Healthy Harvest Food Pantry, Bedford-Stuyvesant Farm, Malcolm X Boulevard Farmers’ Market, and Marcy Plaza Farmers’ Market. 

Bringing chickens to Brooklyn Rescue Mission was actually his wife, Reverend Devanie’s idea. The couple has worked together on improving food access in Bed-Stuy since 1996. 

“Bedford-Stuyvesant was very different back then, but it is still a community which lacks healthy food options and the ability for people to have choices. We began to reshape how we thought about the food system in our community,” he says of their work.

The Jacksons spearheaded the creation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Farm out of an empty neighborhood lot in 2005. The creation of the farm—where the chickens live--has really helped the community and its food system evolve.

“They’re learning about nutrition and why they should eat a certain way for their health. People are expanding their horizons with what they eat because they’re realizing how important it is for their health,” says Reverend Jackson.

The chicken coop at Brooklyn Rescue Mission has been a successful and beneficial addition to the community. Want to help Just Food support more community and school gardens in their efforts to increase access to health food? Support the City Chicken Campaign today!