In New York City, senior gardener Abu Talib oversees the Taqwa Community Farm and its 13 chickens.
In 19th-century Manhattan, hogs roamed the streets and cattle grazed in public parks. Today, chickens are the urban livestock of choice, and not just in New York. City dwellers across the U.S. are adding hens to their yards and gardens, garnering fresh eggs, fertilizer, and community ties, with localities debating and updating their ordinances accordingly.
Urban chickens fell out of favor in the last century because of industrialization and other factors. In the 1990s, though, they enjoyed a renaissance in the local-food-loving Pacific Northwest. The current recession and farm-to-table movement have taken the trend further still. “Just get a few chickens and you can feed yourself,” says AbuTalib of the Bronx’s Taqwa Community Farm. “He who controls your breadbasket controls your destiny.”
—Winona Dimeo-EdigerPhoto: Ira Block