Poultry enthusiasts can visit backyard coops during tour
A few years ago, Josh Knauer probably would have been the last person you'd expect to be buddy-buddy with a group of chickens.
"I was raised in New Jersey and knew nothing about them growing up. In fact, I considered them kind of scary at some point," Knauer says with a chuckle. "I always kinda thought they were a little weird."
Still, he wanted to find a novel way to teach his young children -- Olivia, 9, and Adam, 6 -- responsibility through the care of animals.
It would take hours of Google searches and urging from co-workers before he'd become comfortable enough to buy his first three birds. And today, he's an advocate of urban farming rights.
His Squirrel Hill home will be a stop on Sunday on what promises to be the first of many so-called Chicks-in-the-Hood Urban Chicken Coop Tours in Pittsburgh. The event is a self-guided tour of the dozen-or-so backyard coops that have mushroomed from the North Side to Highland Park in recent years.
A bicycle tour, the Tour de Coop, also is planned.
The event's aim is twofold, organizer Jody Noble says -- to promote the merits of urban agriculture and to woo other would-be poultry enthusiasts.
Knauer, who heads a software company in the South Side, and his wife, Kathleen, have owned three golden comet chickens since April 2010, while caring for two dogs and an aquarium full of fish. It wasn't until one of his employees, an urban farmer in Greenfield, shared her experiences that Knauer eventually became sold on trying to raise chickens.
Their yard borders Frick Park and features a fenced-off chicken pen furnished with overhead netting to keep out foxes, hawks and other predators.
"They're living, breathing science lessons for our children," Knauer, 38, says. "This is more about their learning that there's a life cycle to everything."
Urban farming is not new in Pittsburgh. Historians say World War II-era Victory gardens were an expression of patriotism and a reaction to rationing of gasoline and food. The phenomenon appears to be gaining popularity, despite new restrictions placed on city farmers.
In January, Pittsburgh City Council passed the Urban Agriculture Zoning Code, which caps at three the maximum number of chickens that can be kept on land that spans a minimum 2,000 square feet. Beekeepers can have two hives on land that is at least 2,000 square feet and is a minimum of 10 feet from a neighboring property line.
Owners must apply for zoning variances with the city, which can cost about $300.
Across town on the North Side, Jana Thompson and her husband, Bruce, have kept two chickens behind their home in the Mexican War Streets for the past two years. The birds lay 10 to 12 eggs each week for the couple.
"They come in handy," says Jana Thompson, 44. "We've been raising them for eggs and (fertilizer) ... and haven't really been affected by the rising (food) prices."
Chickens on parade
The Knauer family coop will be a stop on the Chicks-in-the-Hood Urban Chicken Coop Tours in Pittsburgh.
Chicks-in-the-Hood Urban Chicken Coop Tour
When: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $5, free for age 12 and younger. Available the morning of the event through several businesses :
• The Quiet Storm, www.qspgh.com , at 5430 Penn Ave., Garfield
• Tazza D'Oro, www.tazzadoro.com , at 1125 N. Highland Ave., Highland Park;
• Crazy Mocha, www.crazymocha.com , 2 E. North Ave., North Side
• 7665 Lock Way West, Pittsburgh, at the Highland Park Dam
Benefits: Proceeds are earmarked for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's Urban Agriculture Programs, including The Farm Stand Project and the Plant-A-Row Project
Details: 412-441-4975 or e-mail
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Kang story of the year for Pirates
- Penguins GM Rutherford ‘wouldn’t make’ Despres trade today
- Ex-S. Allegheny teacher held on sex assault counts
- McKeesport Area poised to close East End Academy
- Healthy defensive back Mitchell eager for 2nd season with Steelers
- Ford City told to correct problems with pension plan language
- IRS cybersecurity breach touches lives of homebuyers, others
- Propel sixth-graders chronicle McKeesport history for younger peers
- Pittsburgh bicyclist pedaling for pets
- Primary write-in votes tabulated in Armstrong County
- Emergency crews search Youghiogheny River in Layton for Charleroi man