Urban Nesting

Q: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
A: To get to Tour d’Coop of Course!

By Cheryl Capaldo Traylor / Photography by Richard Cox
Above cover image by Ingrid Fromm

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This annual event—the largest chicken coop tour on the East Coast—began in 2005 when a group of neighbors from the Five Points area came together to share stories about their chickens and coops. My how it has grown! Tour d’Coop expanded from “Henside the Beltline” to include Apex, Cary, and all parts of Raleigh. Last year, more than 1,000 visitors attended the event, and each year attendance grows. Homeowners at each of the 20-plus locations talk with visitors about the benefits, joys, and care of keeping chickens in an urban setting.

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Meet the Hen Hosts
Zack Bullington and his parents are first-time hosts on the tour this year. Zack’s mother, Jackie, credits Zack for getting them involved. The family attended previous Tour d’Coop events as guests and always came away inspired. Zack, a 10th grader at Sanderson High School, finally talked his parents into creating a free-range urban farm on their half-acre property near North Hills. He says the best part of caring for chickens is observing the life cycle, and of course, gathering fresh eggs. Eager to talk with visitors about raising animals—chickens, goats, ducks—he wants them to know it’s a lot of fun and not as much work as people expect. 

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Ingrid Fromm agrees. Fromm, a returning event host located in North Raleigh, says having chickens is a fun hobby and shouldn’t be a chore. She and her husband, Sean Nuwer, enjoy sharing information about their coop and its feathered residents. “Kids are particularly interested, and so observant and astute,” Fromm says. “Seeing their interest is a lot of fun.’

Coop owners like the Bullingtons and Fromm-Nuwers also enjoy participating in Tour d’Coop because all proceeds benefit Urban Ministries of Wake County. The popular event raises about $20,000 each year.

Jordan Hewitt, communications and marketing coordinator for Urban Ministries of Wake County, says the tour gives the nonprofit a voice, and lets people know who they are and what they do. Urban Ministries offers support for 30,000 low-income Wake County residents through its food pantry, Open Door Clinic, and the Helen Wright Center for Women. All of the programs are almost entirely operated by over 1,000 volunteers, including physicians, counselors, meal providers, and pantry stockers, who donate their time and talents.

What to Eggs-pect
Visitors will see an array of backyard gardens highlighting environmental sustainability, green living, and permaculture. In addition to chickens, several locations also have other animals and beehives. Each coop and location is unique, so visitors are sure to learn something new at each stop. “Some feature full-blown designer coops that might be nicer than a house,” Hewitt says. “Some are high-tech and filled with electronics.” 

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Guests also enjoy learning the quirky names of chickens—Mrs. BoJangles or Mr. Frizzle—and hearing about their unique personalities. Fromm says chickens are more like domestic pets than people realize: They are trainable, respond well to people, and can recognize voices. Some can do tricks, and some are even show-offs! 

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Tour d’Coop is a great opportunity to learn about chickens, sustainability, and community in an entertaining setting. “It’s a wonderful learning experience, not just about chickens, but also about the communities that people live in,” Hewitt says. There’s something fun for everyone at Tour d’Coop. You don’t have to be a chicken enthusiast to come on the tour, but there’s a good chance you’ll leave as one.

Information
If you find that you need more than chickens, gardens, and bees to make the tour complete, you’re in luck! Some locations will feature food trucks, live music, and T-shirt and beer sales. Feeling clucky? Throw your name in the raffle to take home a chicken coop. The raffled coop will be on display the day of the tour. 

This year’s Tour d’Coop takes place June 1st from 10 am to 4 pm. For more information and to purchase advance tickets online, visit TourdCoop.com. Tickets are also available on the day of the tour from 9:45 am until 2 pm at the Seaboard Ace Hardware (802 Semart Drive), Crafty Beer Shop (Lafayette Village), and Hollywood Feed (beside Whole Foods in Cary). Raffle tickets are available the day of the tour at ticket sites and select tour locations.

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