A flock of ex-commercial chickens that had been destined for slaughter are now at the heart of a community food sustainability project.
The flock of 14 hens have been adopted from the British Hen Welfare Trust and now live at Roehampton Students’ Union’s ‘Growhampton’ project based at Roehampton University.
Now they are looked after by staff and volunteers as part of a project that aims to encourage everyone to think about sustainability issues.
Hillary Nevyjel, Chicken Care and Biodiversity Assistant, said, “We’ve rehomed hens three times since 2017 and they’re very friendly, much more so than when we first opened and had purebreeds.
“We have benches by the coop and when you sit with the chickens, they really cheer you up. You can just forget about everything and we get a lot of feedback that they’ve helped students cope with things.
“We’re an open campus so we have lots of people walking past them in the morning and families visiting at the weekend, the hens are popular with everyone.”
Alongside the chicken coop, the Growhampton project includes a café, built from former shipping containers, where eggs from the hens are sold, a polytunnel and various growing sites for fruit and vegetables.
Volunteers and staff at the site engage with outside organisations to help spread the message about sustainability.
Hillary said, “We try to engage not just with the university’s students but also the wider local community such as youth projects and elderly groups who come along to attend sessions about learning to grow and harvest your own food.
“The chickens are a great way to engage with people. Students, staff, and the community volunteer to take care of them and they’re a great focal point for everyone to learn more not just about hens but also to think more about where food comes from.
“Food sustainability and growing your own is becoming more important and people are beginning to realise that. Lots of visitors who come to our site take that message away with them and are inspired to try growing their own at home.”
If you’d like to adopt hens into your family or for a community project, find out when the BHWT’s next rehoming event is being held by visiting: https://www.bhwt.org.uk/hen-adoption/
To learn more about Growhampton, visit: https://www.roehamptonstudent.com/growhampton/