Meet Lydia Schmidt, City Chickens Trainer

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Caring for chickens in her Crown Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood, has reconnected City Chickens trainer Lydia Schmidt with childhood memories of time spent on her great grandparents’ farm.

“I have childhood memories of visiting them, being away from the city, getting to drink raw milk and cream, and planting crops. Those are really the best memories of my childhood for me.

“After living in the city for a while, I really missed that connection,” she says.

Lydia first got involved in chicken keeping through an internship at Imani Garden in Crown Heights. She went through Just Food’s Training of Trainers series, which trains educators to use learner-centered, participatory teaching techniques two years ago, and has been leading City Chicken Institute workshops at the garden ever since.

Just Food’s City Chicken Institute, hosted in partnership with New York Restoration Project, is a public workshop series taking place at two gardens this season. Both Imani Garden and Paradise on Earth Community Garden in the South Bronx are playing host to workshops on a variety of chicken-keeping topics.

“I want to encourage people to keep chickens. It can be easy, but it’s also important that people learn about the work it entails first. The workshops give people a chance to learn about they’re getting in to,” Lydia says.

She believes the chickens are a terrific benefit to the community, especially for children.

“The kids get excited to come see the chickens and hold the eggs,” Lydia says. “Especially growing up in the city, it gives them the chance to think about where their food comes from starting at a young age.”

According to Lydia, the workshops attract both beginners and experienced chicken-keepers, and she encourages anyone who is interested in chickens to attend.

Join Lydia at the next City Chicken Institute workshop on the basics of chicken-keeping Thursday, June 11th at Imani Garden, and stay tuned for more upcoming workshops! Visit the City Chicken Meetup site to RSVP and learn more.

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