New Hampshire farms statewide are finding creative ways to meet the demand for locally grown food, whether it’s more offerings at farmers markets, connecting with area restaurateurs or developing partnerships with the growing number of food co-ops.
But Templeton Family Organics in Goffstown is taking it a step further by renting chickens to people who want their own eggs without the commitment of managing an entire flock.
Run by Brian and Christine Templeton, the Templeton Family Organics farm is an affiliate of Rent The Chicken, a chicken rental service with more than 40 affiliate farms and homesteaders across the United States and Canada with the mission of “families helping families to bring one simple food source closer to their table one rental at a time.”
The Templetons and their five children are the first “homesteaders” in New England to join the program, offering chicken rentals in NH and Massachusetts.
So how does it work? Templeton Family Organics, which joined the network in November and will be offering chicken rentals for the first time this season, have 140 egg-laying chickens available for rent. (In March, they already had eight reservations.)
“We provide everything: a mobile coop, all the organic soy-free feed you need for the season— six months—and two to four laying hens,” Christine says. The cost to rent two hens is $550 or $700 for four hens. That also includes a book about how to care for chickens and worms for “treats.”
The chickens are delivered in the spring, and the farm takes them back to care for them during the winter. If people fall in love with their chickens and want the same ones back the next spring, the farm will tag them and return them the next year. “Chickens don’t want to be out in the snow. They need to be inside but in a good amount of space, so they are not stressed,” Christine says.
However, people can also opt to adopt their chickens if they want them year-round. People and schools can also rent eggs to hatch and receive eggs and an incubator. The farm will be offering that service in June and the cost is $200.
Christine says people can also contact the couple with questions once they have their chickens. “You’re not alone in this venture,” she says
The couple says this is an extra revenue stream for their growing farm. Brian says they sell some chickens to local farms and sell pork and chicken to area restaurants and food co-ops.
Neither of the Templetons has a farming background. Brian has been a blues musician for 24 years, and Christine has worked for Randstad, a staffing agency, for 23 years. After watching Food Inc., the couple decided to incorporate more locally sourced food in their own diets. During his research to find a local farm, Brian worked at another local farm to learn the ropes and found he loved the work and working outdoors. In 2015, the couple purchased a farmhouse to start farming.
For more information, visit templetonfamilyorganics.com or rentthechickenNH.com.