|Chickens enjoy a warmer climate where they can still scratch on the ground, while the plants get a heated home in which to grow.|
A recent partnership between Redwood's food pantry, Hearts for Youth, the Redwood Neighborhood Association, and Better Farm utilizes Redwood's Community Greenhouse to cultivate food that will be donated to the food pantry for disbursement to those in need. That greenhouse was moved to Better Farm, where the people staying here have agreed to tend to the garden and provide daily care for the plants as they grow.
I began looking into ways to heat greenhouses year round and found a ton of information on heaters, solar panels, fans and insulation. But all potential solutions fell by the wayside when I discovered Anna Edey and her work on Martha's Vineyard with her Solviva Greenhouse.
|A basic Solviva greenhouse design, as found at Backyard Chickens.|
Awed by this potential, I brainstormed ways to protect plants while keeping them in the greenhouse with chickens. There are a lot of added bonuses to this chicken-greenhouse setup besides the plants, of course. The chickens also enjoy a break from all the cold and wind, which will boost their egg production throughout the winter. Plus, all the bedding and compost will be perfect to shovel into the garden come spring.
To prep the greenhouse, a few things had to be done first. The outside of the structure had to be wrapped in chicken wire to prevent predators from simply scratching through the plastic:
A trap door was added next to the front door to allow birds access outside on manageable winter days (accomplished here without having to leave the main door open and potentially subjecting plants to a chill):
And lastly, the birds needed a protected space to sleep and lay that even a weasle can't get into in the middle of the night: