Twenty beautiful and lively hens have begun practising their love in action in Cullerne Garden. They are the result of one of four European Voluntary Service (EVS) Projects collaborating with the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). Barbara Lakatos from Hungary is one of the four students who came in October 2010 to join the Findhorn Foundation for a year, her project to establish a Chicken Tractor in Cullerne Garden.
The idea of the project in Cullerne Garden was initiated by Thomas Hölzer who co-focalises the garden, and it is to enable a Permaculture approach to soil fertility. The chickens are now scratching and digging all day and fertilising the soil in the fields – and of course feeding the community with their eggs.
Barbara delivered the first 64 eggs, the product of one week, to Park Kitchen last Wednesday. The long-term goal is to sustain 200 chickens plus a rooster in Cullerne Garden and provide Park and Cluny kitchens with organic eggs exclusively from our own source.
Barbara has organised a support scheme for the purchase and maintenance of the chickens. Community members can adopt a chicken and choose a name for it. Roxanne, Madame Bovary, Boldogság, Martina, Constantina, Cleopatra, Matilda and their friends are now a joyful attraction for community members of all ages and for our guests in the community.
The hen house, the so called Chicken Tractor, with nesting boxes was built over the last few months. It is a mobile hen house that can move the hens from one place to another. It protects them and gives them shelter and gives them a place to lay their eggs. No eggs have been found in the hedges around the garden so far. An electric fence has been put up to keep predators away and protect the chickens.
During the winter the plan is to accommodate the chickens in Cullerne Garden’s polytunnels. A lot of research about correct feeding, and prevention and treatment of illnesses, has been undertaken by Barbara and by Thomas, who will be looking after the chickens and developing the project further when Barbara's EVS year is finished.
Barbara finished high school in Budapest before she came to Findhorn. She grew up in one the few ecovillages in Hungary, and it included working with animals, Permaculture and compost toilets. "I wanted to do something that is special and good for young people. The offer of the EVS project arrived just at the right moment via a GEN newsletter. I applied already having the chickens project in mind. It had the feeling it would give me the happiest time."
It’s great to have the EVS participants at Findhorn this year, and their projects, and very exciting to have these wonderful new beings clacking around at Cullerne!