the poultry project

Steven, the Master Farmer

May 18th, 2011

One of the original Poultry Project beneficiaries, Akido Betty, lives with her uncle Steven. He became the guardian of Betty and her siblings after their parents died from AIDS-related illness. Steven has children of his own, so supporting another family means growing and buying more food, building extra shelter, providing emotional support, and paying school fees.

Since he started the project in 2006, Steven has grown the initial 4 hens and 1 cock to a flock of over 60 chickens, 2 cows and several goats. He continues to amaze us with his entrepreneurial prowess and poultry-keeping expertise. With the sale of eggs and chicks, Steven keeps all of his children in school. Betty will graduate high school this year and attend university next fall, which would not be possible without her uncle’s commitment to his poultry business.

Not only is he a super-dad, Steven is eager to help other Poultry Project farmers by sharing his knowledge and expertise. Watching him build his coop today was awesome. He proudly placed some of his birds in the finished coop and couldn’t stop smiling. He already has plans to build another coop for his large flock (the coop holds about 15 birds comfortably).

[ Photographs by Kevin Kopanski - our volunteer photographer extraordinaire!]

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Poultry Project Evaluation

May 16th, 2011

In the Spring of 2010, students from George Washington University conducted a detailed project evaluation.  The results, below, helped us identify various areas of improvement, including the need for improved poultry shelter.

The team is heading to Bukedea today for the fourth chicken coop build workshop.  Check back for updates later today!

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Coop Build Workshop #3

May 15th, 2011

On Friday we returned to Sironko for our third coop build at Eric Wanafwa’s house.  Eric and his mother Sophie were added to the Poultry Project in 2006; they are both HIV+.  Since 2006, Sophie has taken her project and allowed it to flourish with her keen business sense and inspiring work ethic.  She is a mother, chicken farmer, a seamstress, and she recently acquired a cow and land to start growing coffee.  When we arrived she proudly walked us through a lush field of banana trees, sweet potatoes, papaya trees and beans to show us her first land purchase.   Standing with Sophie on land that she purchased with earnings from the Poultry Project reaffirmed the work we do here is valuable and life changing.  I stood with Sophie, feeling proud of her success and humbled by her strength.  As we walked around her land, the sunlight broke through the thick canopy of greenery and shined down on Sophie.

Sophie and her mother on her land.

Sophie and Eric's cow.

We then headed back to the house and got to work on the coop.  We were making great time when a huge storm rolled in.  The Poultry Project team pulled together and whipped up a chicken house in 4 hours.    Sophie and Eric gathered their chickens and placed them in their new home.

About twenty children from the neighborhood happily watched construction. They stayed the entire time.

Monsoon-like rainfall put the team on hold and made for a muddy construction site.

The team persevered and created a lovely coop for Sophie and Eric.

Placing the birds in their new home. On to the next!

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Coop Material Drop-off

May 15th, 2011

The past couple of days have been very busy – we’ve been driving to isolated villages, visiting families, buying and delivering materials, building coops and digging our rental car out of mud pits (Ugandan roads).  The 14 participants who received materials over the past three days were from Sironko, Bukedea and Budaka districts.  We also held our third chicken coop on-site build workshop at Eric Wanafwa’s home in Sironko.  During the next two weeks will begin our expansion in the Tororo and Soroti regions, adding 20 participants altogether.

Mbale lumber yard -- our first stop on delivery days.

The yard is always buzzing with customers, men at work, roosters, hungry goats, a few dogs and a solo Mzungu (white person) looking for a deal on wooden planks.

After 9 1/2  hours spent driving over crater filled roads, hauling wooden poles & planks, multiple mosquito bites and nothing more to eat than a protein bar a piece – we found ourselves less than 20 minutes from home and stuck in a swampy field.  For the next 2 1/2 hours we worked together to get the truck back on the road.  No one freaked out, everyone remained calm.  This is why I love Uganda, the peopleare so kind and peaceful.  When we were dropped Martha,  a TASO counselor, off at her house she shook my hand and said, “thank you for sharing this struggle with me.

“To struggle is to strengthen my faith, my hope and my belief in humanity.”
-Valentino Achek Deng

Our rental truck - driver included.

Stuck in a ditch.

Dropping off materials at Faith's home.


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Coop Build Workshop #2

May 12th, 2011

The Poultry Project held the second on-site build workshop at Mutonyi Sandra’s home. Sandra lives in Nabumali, in Bungokho County, in Mbale district.  The twelve year old girl lost both parents to AIDS, and along with her six siblings, lives with her aunt, uncle and their 3 children; there are 12 people in the household. When we first added Sandra in 2008, the family was in a very dire situation. There was little food for the children to eat and they had a small number of livestock. Today we saw firsthand the impact a few resources and training can have on an entire family of 12. We learned the bicycle provided to Sandra is used as a boda boda (taxi service) and earns the family 5,000 Ugandan shillings per week. With this additional income, they have been able to begin saving. With their earnings from the boda boda, they have purchased a cow that is now pregnant, one goat and their original 5 chickens have multiplied to 15. In addition to their livestock, they grow mangoes, papaya, passion fruit, jack fruit, maize and coffee.

Sandra and her siblings enjoying the sunshine and new soccer ball.

Sandra and her family in front of their new coop!

During rainy season in Uganda, many farmers tie their free range chickens with rope to prevent the chickens from wandering around and ruining the crops. Tying the birds is often stressful and painful on the animal and results in low productivity.

Having a chicken coop will give the chickens an opportunity to walk around, without destroying the crops. It will also reduce the chance of theft, loss to predators and protect the chickens from poor weather conditions. Before the team left, he quickly gathered up a few birds and placed them inside their new home.

While the team was working on the chicken coop, I taught the children how to use my camera.  Here are some photos I found later in the evening when I uploaded my pictures…


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Coop Build Workshop #1

May 10th, 2011

This month we will conduct 6 on-sight chicken coop building workshops in Mbale, Sironko, Kumi, Soroti and Tororo.  During the last few days we have been acquiring materials for the workshops in Mbale (the Mbale district will have two workshops because it has the most participants).  Each participant is provided with: 40 wooden poles, 4 sheets of timber, 30 meters of wire mesh, nails (3 different types), binding wire, a padlock & latch, rope, 3 bunches of papyrus, 5 hinges, and 1 bag of cement.  The materials are delivered by the Poultry Project team to each household prior to the on-sight build workshops, which are held at the district chairperson’s home.   During the workshop, how-to manuals and verbal instructions are provided in the local language.  All attendees are encouraged to participate in building the coop in order to gain a better understanding of the design and construction, before they begin their own.

Loading up the truck with Papyrus. This reedlike plant is native to Africa and grows up to 15 feet tall in the wetlands. Its uses range from making cloth, mats, sandals, sails and now -- chicken coops.

Acquiring sheets of timber at the lumber yard.

The wooden poles we had cut into 17, 16, 7 and 4 feet pieces. Each child received 40 poles to construct their coops.

Using a panga for custom-sized wooden poles. So much better than Lowe's!

Delivering the materials! We went to five homes and when darkness set in, we relied on Peter's cellphone to help us sort the materials. No streetlights in Mbale...


Today’s workshop was held at the late Angura James household.  It seemed fitting that we would begin at the home where the Poultry Project began in 2006.  Kelly met James and his older brother Charles 5 years ago at TASO.  Angura James was under the care of his five older brothers after losing both parents to AIDS.  James was also HIV+.  After meeting James and his family, Kelly was determined to help the children.  She gathered funds from friends and family members (probably many of you reading this very post) and began construction on a new, safe house for the six orphaned boys.  Shortly thereafter, the Poultry Project was born in an attempt to help children in situations similar to that of James.

Photo taken June 8, 2007. Back from left: Robert, Joseph, Charles. Front from left: Rubin, Charles (yes, there are two), James.

After a short reunion with Charles and his siblings, we immediately got to work.  Everyone was engaged, listening, participating, hammering, cutting, Panga-ing, and working towards the same goal.  After days of doubting the willingness and ability of our participants to get involved in the workshops, we felt silly when, within minutes of laying out the wooden poles, we had to literally hold Ugandan men, women and children back from nailing everything to everything and completing some version of our coop design within minutes.

We were worried that they would not have the right tools (hammer, pliers, wire cutters, saw, shovel etc.)…they found it silly that we use so many tools when the panga can do pretty much everything, and they proved it.

We were convinced that they would not understand or follow our English-style measurements…they found it rigid and elementary that we did not use a mix of English and metric units in our daily lives, like they do.

We went back and forth for weeks as to whether nails or rope should be used to bind the coop joints since we assumed they did not have much experience with nails…they laughed at how long it took us to hammer a nail into a piece of wood compared to them.

We thought that our how-to guide would be too confusing for them to read and understand…nearly all of them added notes, the guide being a little too simplistic for them.

Finally, we were worried that we wouldn’t have enough man power to build the coop in one day…they added a village of helpers to our team and built the coop in nearly 3 hours (it took us 3 days to build the model).

Chicken coop materials arranged in neat piles.

Let the building begin! Everyone was intent on learning how to build the coop and eager to get to work.


Homemade cement -- just add water! It was needed to secure the coop into the land.

Four of the brothers in front of the coop.


All in all it was a wonderful day – participants and team members alike learned something new.  As the team began to clean up and pack the truck, I asked James’s brother Rubin if he’d walk me over to pay a visit to James.  We quietly headed down the dirt path, gathering a few wild flowers along the way.  When we arrived at the headstones, the child pointed out where his mother, father, and little brother lay to rest.  I placed the tiny bushel of flowers on each flat of cement. As I hid my tearing eyes behind my sunglasses, Rubin looked over the great expanse of green pasture towards the mountains.  He then turned to me and smiled.

Standing with Rubin, I wondered if he saw his reflection in the immense rock that stood in a distance.  It has weathered many storms and harsh conditions, yet it remains still, strong and beautiful.

Rest in peace Angura James, 2001 – 2007.  And thank you to all our donors – without your support we wouldn’t have the privilege of helping such extraordinary families.

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Mbale Training Workshop for New Farmers/Coop Design*Build

May 9th, 2011

Our first week in Uganda has come to an end. We are all very proud of the work we’ve accomplished in such a short period. We have selected 10 new participants, distributed bicycles to 7 children, constructed the chicken coop model that will be used as the demonstration model at building workshops and completed two trainings for new participants and chairpersons. (The chairpersons are participants who have shown they’re capable of maintaining successful, small-holder poultry businesses. They are given the additional responsibility of managing the other participants who live in their division – we have 5 divisions in Mbale.)

The chicken coop the night before the workshop -- looking good!

The chicken coop was made using local materials and tools. The Panga, or machete, is was used to chop the poles which frame the coop. The panga is a multi-purpose tool, though. It’s used to cut fruits like bananas and coconut, mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, chopping wood and protection.


Joe has mad panga skills - obviously.

The selfless TASO clients, Eric and David, offered us hours of their time and building expertise. We couldn't have finished without their help.

Once the red roof was securely fastened, Emily A. put the final touch on the coop - the Poultry Project symbol made from a cardboard stencil. Love it!

At the new participant workshop, each of the chairpersons spoke about their personal stories and how the poultry project has impacted their lives. It was really beautiful to hear this project is indeed making a difference. Two stories that stood out are from a single mother who raises her HIV+, 7-year old son and a 55 year old uncle who cares for 12 children of deceased siblings. Sophie, with her original 5 chickens, was able to use the eggs to provide nutrition to her son, open a savings account, purchase a cow with savings and eventually purchase land where she has started a coffee farm. Steven has grown his chicken fleet to 62 and added goats and cows. The livestock, especially the cows, are valuable assets here in Mbale. In general, subsistence farmers in Uganda lack modernized farming equipment and must use manual labor or the assistance of bulls to plow their land. Having a cow opens up many opportunities for farmers such as increasing their farm output and renting out of their plowing services. Steven’s Poultry Project earnings have enabled him to send all 12 children to school. Success!

The beautiful Sophie!

Master farmer, Steven, after sharing his story with the new participants.

After the training, new participants were taken outside to check out the coop.

This upcoming week we will be holding 5 on-site building workshops in Mbale. In preparation, we will purchase materials for 5 chicken coops and deliver the packages to each chairperson’s home. During the workshop we will build the chicken coop that Emily Axtman designed. The workshops should take roughly 5-6 hours.

Also on the agenda for this week is the purchasing and delivering of coop materials to the homes of our existing participants. It was originally our plan to purchase materials for all participants (including newly added participants) so they could leave the workshop and begin construction on their coop at their homes. However, we need roughly $4,000 more to purchase materials for the newly added participants in Mbale, Tororo and Soroti. So – this week the newly added participants will simply get the instructions on how to construct the coop and until we have the cash-flow to purchase the materials, they will have to wait…

Say hello to the newly added Poultry Project participants of Mbale, Uganda:

Emily, Peter, and Joe with the 5 chairpersons, 10 new participants & their families. Both workshops were a great success and we're all looking forward to the weeks ahead in Uganda!

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Home Visits

May 6th, 2011

Peter and I went roadtrippin to check out the prices of bicycles and visit a few participants.

Our first stop was to Annet’s house.  What a lovely surprise!  It was so wonderful to see her smiling, happy and healthy.  When we met Annet in 2008, it was during a very hard time in her life.  She had many challenges; her health was poor, she wasn’t going to school, and she barely spoke.  This time around, she was beaming. As I sat on the wooden stool among Peter, Annet and her mother, I felt so grateful. What a priviledge to be here among such strong, real people.

Annet is Living with HIV.

Today we visited Nadunga Lukaya, a new participant from Mbale.  Just three years old and she has already faced more adversity than many experience in a lifetime.  Both of her parents recently passed away from AIDS related illnesses, leaving her in the care of grandmother who is in her late eighties.

When we visited Nadunga she was frightened by my white skin – she kept her eyes covered, even after being coaxed with sweets and ugandan coins.
I was the first white person she had ever seen.  At the sight of me, she screamed, cried and then held her little hands over her eyes for the entire visit.

And even though I wanted her to feel comfortable and take her hand away from her eyes, I somehow understood her fear.  This was the first HIV+ three year-old orphan I had ever met.   I too felt like closing my eyes.  Not to make her disappear, rather to avoid seeing her pain and suffering – so I could pretend everything was okay.

If only life were that easy…

It’s not always easy to face our fears, but when we do, the opportunity for true understanding and empathy arises.  Thank you Nadunga for helping me see your situation more clearly.

I know this trip will have it’s ups and downs, and we may not
improve the lives of every child we meet, but we can at least make small steps to helping our current participants get a foot on the ladder of development.
However small of an offering it may be, we will be providing Nadunga’s family with 5 chickens, vaccines for the birds, a bicycle, training from the vet and a chicken coop.

Nadunga and her family

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Expansion + Coop Design/Build: Day 1-2

May 5th, 2011

Our first day in Mbale was spent shopping for household items, eating local treats and a quick stop to marvel at the Source of the Nile.  Later in the day, we unpacked our many bags, made peace with the various insects who also call the TASO guesthouse home and returned to our single beds for a good night’s rest.  After a long journey, the work has finally begun.  The past two days have been jam packed with acquiring materials for chicken coop building and working with local craftsmen to straighten out kinks in our chicken coop model, which will be used as a demo for the participants. 

We have so much work to do and little time, but we are all hopeful in our efforts and Emily Axtman’s design.  It feels good to be back in Uganda – to be taken out of the hectic lifestyle we are all accustomed to.  Although our participants have many challenges, life in Mbale is splendid; the people are kind, the pace is gentle, and the beautiful landscape is inspiring.    We will try our hardest to update regularly, given we have internet access and our fieldwork is finished.  Please check back soon.  In the meantime, enjoy the photos…Wabale!

The Source of the Nile


A meeting of good friends on the Nile.

Mango season in Uganda! Ten mangoes purchased roadside for 1 USD.
Francis from TASO helped saw the wooden poles for the chicken coop.

Emily A. and Joe organize the wooden poles for the frame of the coop.


Making progress!


A welcomed visit from Shamin! Hugs were shared and she sang us a beautiful song in perfect English!

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Uganda bound!

May 2nd, 2011

After months of preparation, designing a model chicken coop for rural Uganda, throwing a fundraising event in Brooklyn, countless conference calls with our TASO partners and hundreds of emails, part of the Poultry Project team is en route to Uganda. Emily Pavlick, Emily Axtman, Khushbu Patel and Joe Pavlick met up at JFK last night for their 11pm flight.

After arriving in Entebbe, the team will head straight to Mbale to begin sourcing the chicken coop materials and bikes, preparing for the Coop Design/Build and Expansion workshops, and finding transportation to deliver the coop materials to hard-to-reach rural locations in Mbale, Soroti and Tororo.

Hundreds of generous donors have made the Poultry Project’s Expansion and Coop Design/Build initiatives a reality. This May, thirty new families in Mbale, Soroti and Tororo will become Poultry Project farmers. With the help of community design guru Emily Axtman, all Poultry Project farmers will receive materials and instruction to build to their own modern chicken coops.

On May 15th, I will join the team, along with photographer Kevin Kopanski. You can follow our progress here, the Poultry Project Facebook page and Emily Axtman’s blog.

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Build a Coop + Expansion – May 2011

March 4th, 2011

We’ve been working hard over the past few months to plan for our upcoming work trip to Uganda.

On the agenda:

1. Build a Coop 2011: Emily Axtman, the 2nd place winner of the Chicken Coop Design Competition, will go to Uganda to work with Poultry Project participants to design an easy-to-assemble, durable, efficient chicken coop made from local materials.  After the model coop is designed, Axtman will hold building workshops where participants will receive the materials and assistance to build their own coops.

2. Mbale Expansion: The team at TASO has identified 15 families to add to the project in the Mbale region.  In May, we will visit some of these families at their homes, procure and prepare the distribution of each families’ poultry business assets and host their first training workshop.  These added families will also receive supplies and instruction for building coops.

3. TASO Expansion: The success of the Poultry Project has been noticed by TASO’s executive leadership and they want us to begin working with other TASO branches (11 throughout Uganda).  Expansion to the Soroti and Tororo TASO branches is planned for May and we hope to plan to work with 15 families at each location.

To fund this huge endeavor, we have rallied our networks of friends, colleagues and family to spread the word about the Poultry Project and to get involved in our fundraising campaign.  We also have an event planned at the Woods in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), NY for early April – more details to come.

Ways to get involved:

1. Follow us on Facebook.

2. Become a part of our fundraising team on Crowdrise.

3. Donate $5, $10, $20, $100 – whatever you can give – at

4. Spread the word!

Your compassionate concern and continued support help us give the HIV/AIDS-affected children of Uganda an opportunity to earn money, acquire farming and business skills and improve their lives.  We are forever grateful!

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Coop of the Day: Urban Poultry Service

February 24th, 2011

A team from Chicago’s ARCHEWORKS, an alternative design school that replaces traditional curriculum with real life problem solving by challenging students “to work in multidisciplinary teams with nonprofit partners to create design solutions for social and environmental concerns.”  Not only did they design a chicken coop, they created a model for community engagement, economic development and strengthening local food systems.

The Team:

Michelle Ruiz
Lindsay Banks
Luis Garcia
Philip Syvertsen
Eric Heineman
Jared Lauridsen
Christopher Korycki
Meredith Vlahakis

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Coop of the Day: Chicken Sandwich

February 2nd, 2011

Designed by Ashley Kennedy of Vermont:

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Coop of the Day: coop de ville

January 27th, 2011

Erica Chladova and Richard C Preston, partners at Archriot and graduates of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, designed the coop de ville with chicken happiness in mind.  A transparent corrugated roof, elaborate water collection system, ample nesting boxes, and plenty of perch space are some of the features of the coop de ville.

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Coop of the Day: Elementi 6 + 9 Accessori

January 11th, 2011

Alessandra Bolis, an architecture student from Italy, designed this colorful, flatpak coop.

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Coop of the Day: Cart Coop

January 7th, 2011

Shopping cart meets urban agriculture in this ingenious chicken coop design by New Orleans design firm, Crooked Architecture.  Zach Lamb and Carey Clouse worked together to find a new use for the shopping cart – a portable, pretty home for a small (1 0r 2) flock of backyard hens.  A favorite of the design competition jury, the Cart Coop won over the visitors at the exhibition and took home the People’s Choice Award for favorite chicken coop design.

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Coop of the Day returns after holiday break!: Bamboo Coop

January 6th, 2011

Tri Dang, a student Orange Coast College, designed this thatched coop after researching traditional Ugandan methods of shelter design and construction.  This egg shaped coop was a favorite of the judges for its simplicity and beauty.

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Coop of the Day: Modular System

December 16th, 2010

Camilo Cerro of Brooklyn, NY designed this modular coop.  Here’s what he had to say about it:

The idea behind this design is to create a chicken coop that is modular, made of recycled materials and that solves the programmatic issues in a better way than the coops presently on the market. By creating a modular system, we allow for the design to expand in an unlimited manner. This capacity gives the owner alternatives in terms of the location and evolution of the coop. In terms of materials, I propose to recycle wood into MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) or wood-chip boards as the primary material for the coop, this then would be painted to protect if from the elements. And finally the design is set for adaptability. Each module has all the components to be set as a corner condition, central condition, to have an access ramp to the upper level or to stand alone. When not in use by a module, the ramp becomes the circulation floor for the upper floor. Sliding doors at each side of the module allow for circulation from module to module or to close off the corner modules. Two access doors allow for independent access to the nest and feeder (for both water and feed). And the mesh panels on the lower level are removable to allow for some to betaken out when the module is placed in a central portion of the coop. The lower level stands on the ground allowing the chickens to have access to grass and dirt while kept enclosed. Because of its simplicity the module is compact, light, easy to carry and clean.

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CCDC Top Ten, Finalists, Honorable Mentions

December 13th, 2010

The judging of the Chicken Coop Design Competition had three phases – I. top 10 II. top 3 (#1 pick plus two honorable mentions) III. selecting winner from finalists (the #1 picks).  As promised, here are the top 10s, finalists and honorable mentions:

Top 10 Lists:


  1. Pivot
  2. Poulle Belle
  3. GOA
  5. Steven Zambrano
  6. Hugh Macguire
  7. Emily Axteman
  8. Karachi B
  9. Henry Foch
  10. Cart Coop


  1. Karachi B
  2. Poulle-Belle
  3. Hugh Macguire
  4. George Acock
  5. Henry Foch
  7. Steven Zambrano
  8. Philip Proefoeck
  9. Anna Scheffer…
  10. Emily Axteman


  1. Tri Dang
  2. John Ha
  3. Cindie McDonald
  4. Steven Zambrano
  5. Anna Scheffer..
  6. Eric Rochon
  7. Phillip Proefoeck
  8. Henri Foch
  9. Nguyen Ngoc
  10. Karachi B


  1. George Acock
  3. Cart Coop
  4. Tri Dang
  5. Emily Axteman
  6. GOA
  7. Jennifer Hiser
  8. Hugh Macguire
  9. PIVOT
  10. Poulle-Belle


  1. Emily Axteman
  2. Sustainable TO
  3. Lawrence Duck
  4. Hali Knight
  5. A. Kennedy
  6. Ben Grist
  8. Ella Stelter
  9. Karachi B
  10. John Ha

The next round, judges were to narrow down to top pick plus 2 honorable mentions:

Gauri – top pick – torn between Emily Axtman and University of Karachi B. honorable mentions: Hugh MacGuire, Henri Foch
Lynn – top pick – University of Karachi B. honorable mentions: Tri Dang, John Ha
Joe – top pick – University of Karachi B. honorable mentions: Hugh MacGuire, Henri Foch
Tim – top pick – Lawrence Duck. honorable mentions: Ben Grist, ARCHRIOT  (other selections: Emily Axtman, Hali Knight, Ella Stelter, University of Karachi B, Ashley Kennedy)
Matt – top pick – Emily Axtman. honorable mentions: Hugh MacGuire, GOA Eclectic Coop

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Coop of the Day: Nelson Chicken Coop

December 8th, 2010

Designed by architect Michael Nelson of Nelson Design Group, this henhouse is already built and in use in his suburban backyard.   Nelson lives in Birmingham, AL and has 5 chickens.

Nelson’s description of the design:

The Nelson Chicken Coop is a suburban backyard henhouse comprised of two levels, a lower ground-level run and a raised, upper area for feeding, nesting, & perching. Each level is approximately four (4) feet wide by six (6) feet long in plan, providing a total of forty-eight (48) square feet of area. The upper level is covered, enclosed, and raised to provide protection for the hens. Ventilation is provided by an operable front window running the length of the coop, hardware cloth floor, an enclosed lower-level run, and venting at the ridge on the roof. There are two (2) nesting boxes and four (4) linear feet of perch in the upper level. Access to the coop includes an egg door & feed/water door on the upper level and two (2) clean-out doors on the lower level. All doors are secured using surface-mounted, manual bolt latches. Building materials used include 2x wood framing, ¾” plywood, and galvanized metal roofing. Galvanized hardware cloth (1/4”) is used to enclose the run in the lower level, to floor 2/3 of the upper level, and to secure the upper level ventilation window when open. The center section of the upper level has no floor to allow vertical access between the levels. The siding on each end of the coop is fabricated from wood shims and stained for protection from the elements. An electric utility light is added to the interior of the coop as needed to bolster the lighting during the winter season.

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Coop of the Day: Poulle-Belle

December 6th, 2010

When we were in the early stages of planning the Chicken Coop Design Competition, we talked about wanting IKEA to come up with a simple, easily assembled, flat-pak coop product.  Well, this group of architects from Paris decided to repurpose an IKEA kitchen cabinet as a chicken coop.  They even took time to send a letter to IKEA pitching their design.  This coop was a favorite of the jury for its innovation and creativity.  Bravo!

Poulle-Belle by Alice Dufourmantelle + Juliette Mesnage + Eleonore Morand

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World AIDS Day

December 1st, 2010

World AIDS Day – a day to remember our friends, parents, siblings, children, lovers, leaders, family, and fellows that have died from AIDS related illness; a day to honor the changemakers that have made ARVs and other life saving treatment available to millions; a day to thank the AIDS activists that continue to fight for access to evidence-based HIV/AIDS prevention (i.e. syringe exchange, comprehensive sex-ed, condoms, female condoms, harm reduction); a day to recognize that everyday is AIDS day because we are all affected.  There’s a t-shirt that TASO staff wear and it says, “Stopping AIDS starts with me.”  I just read an article in the NYTimes about the new wave of AIDS activists on US college campuses.  These kids are putting pressure on Obama and White House staffers to keep the 2008 campaign promise of $50 billion to fund AIDS programs.  A funeral for the 1.8 million people that have died from AIDS related illness will be staged today by ACT UP Philadelphia on the White House lawn.  There are some simple things you can do today to advocate for more resources for AIDS prevention and treatment and to join the movement to end AIDS.  At Change AIDS Obama, you can sign and send a letter to Obama urging him to address the dwindling resources available to US AIDS service organizations and health departments to provide prevention and treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS in the US; click here to send your letter.  Get tested.  HIV testing is one of the most important HIV prevention tools.  Click here to find a testing site by zip code.

We honor the Poultry Project participants that have died from AIDS related illness:






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The winner is…

November 28th, 2010


After several days of intense deliberation, the jury chose the University of Karachi Group B’s portable coop design as the winner of the The Poultry Project 2010 Chicken Coop Design Competition.  Another coop was a close contender, so the jury created a runner-up award for Emily Axtman’s design – she actually built the coop in North Carolina as part of her fellowship with DesignCorps.

In addition to the jury prize and runner-up awards, we invited visitors to the Exhibition to vote for their favorite coop design for the People’s Choice Award.  There were 63 designs to choose from and 73 ballots were cast.  The winner of the People’s Choice Award is the Cart Coop by Carey Clouse and Zach Lamb.


Congratulations to EVERYONE that participated in the competition.  The jury spent hours assessing, discussing and comparing the designs.  And the designers put so much time, talent and effort into their amazing, meticulous, gorgeous coop design submissions.  We are so pleased with the enthusiasm and interest in our first coop design competition – so pleased that we plan to do this again next year.  Thanks again to the jury and coop designers!

Loads of gratitude to our generous event sponsors/vendors – Lucky Penny Farm (donated delicious medjool dates stuffed with their signature chevre); Covered Bridge Gardens (donated delicious popping corn); Beckwith Orchards (donated a bushel of apples; DJ Flower Mantis (incredible music); Wooltex Gallery/Artefino (thanks Karen for being an amazing, attentive host!).

Over the coming months, we will post a coop design a day and we’ll announce the finalists and honorable mentions.  The coop posts will feature photos and descriptions of the coop designs and designer bios.

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Meet the Jury…

October 30th, 2010

With over 60 entries to the review and assess, the 2010 Chicken Coop Design Competition jury is hard at work.

The multidisciplinary jury:

Lynn Rodemann is an urban farmer and educator in Northeast Ohio.  She runs two large community gardens -one in Detroit-Shoreway and another in Jefferson Park called Devil’s Backbone Market and Educational Herb Farm – and keeps over 30 chickens.  A founding member of  LEAF (Lakewood Earth and Food community), Reimagining Cleveland grant recipient, herb vendor to area restaurants and food trucks and a slow food activist and doer, Lynn works hard to bring good, locally produced food to her community.  Lynn resides in Lakewood, Ohio with her husband and two sons (the chickens live in Cleveland).

Joe McGuier is a young architect living in Brooklyn, NY. Joe’s professional focus is on reintroducing thoughtful, reasonable and contextual design as a profit-inducing component of small-scale urban residential developments. Through this, Joe hopes to affect positive change on the urban fabric of his beloved New York and reposition the architect as a central player in urban multi-family developments.  Joe was born and raised in Ohio and attended the University of Cincinnati for his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Architecture. As a child, Joe ate so much chicken his mother thought he might wake up with feathers one day, so this design competition is near and dear to his heart.

West Virginia born and bred, Matthew Miller is Project H’s “MacGyver-in-residence” and Studio H co-founder and instructor.  An accomplished fabricator and metalworker, he has worked for several emerging practices including Architecture for Humanity and HousingOperative.  Matthew studied at the Bauhaus, holds an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Tennessee and a post-professional Masters in Architecture from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, the College of Creative Studies and UC Berkeley, among others. He is the ultimate designer/builder, with a range of projects extending from the ghettos of Detroit to the agrarian slopes of southwestern Uganda.

Gauri Torgalkar is a native of India who received her her M.Arch. degree from Kent State University in 2003, and after almost a decade in this city, considers herself a Clevelander. Her thesis research focused on environments of healing, and her project for permanent, supportive housing for the homeless was developed in conjunction with a network of Cleveland community activists. Gauri first started working at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) as a student intern before becoming a full time employee. She has worked on numerous projects, including the STEPS bike & pedestrian maps, CSU Masterplan, Re-imagining a more sustainable Cleveland and Pop Up City’s events. Gauri is also actively involved in social, environmental and civic organizations including the Cleveland Coalition, Bioneers Cleveland, Architecture for Humanity, and Sadguru Shri Aniruddha Upasana Trust. Gauri also participates in the CUDC curriculum, teaching a course in graphic techniques for urban design and serves as a capstone adviser for M.UD students.

Tim Malinich is a horticulturist, chicken farmer and the Horticulture Extension Educator for the Ohio State University Lorain Extension.   Horticulture is defined as the science and art of growing fruit, flowers, ornamental plants and vegetables.   Throughout Northeast Ohio, Tim teaches people how to grow their own food, raise egg-laying chickens, compost, fertilize and control pests.   Tim resides in Lorain, Ohio with his family and his chickens (he built his coop from scratch).

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October 26th, 2010

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