Andrew and Lisa Kingsley run Harmony Gardens and Floral as a family business with their four children in tow. Grace (eight), Charity (eight), Liberty (seven), and Charlie (four) spend their days playing and helping with chores, which allows them to spend lots of time with their parents. It’s been working out great but towards the end of the last school year, Andrew and Lisa decided that they needed to add something to the business to give the kids something to do over the summer months. They determined that chickens would be just the thing. “It was kind of to give the kids something to do in the summer,” Lisa said. “They’re here a lot.”
The first step was to get permission from the City of Harmony. Andrew spoke with all of the business’s adjacent neighbors and got a signature from each one showing their support for the venture. He then addressed the city council at one of their meetings to ask them to consider changing the city ordinance, which at that time, forbid any farm animals from being raised within city limits. The city approved a modification to the ordinance allowing chickens to be kept in industrial areas with a permit. In May, the Kingsleys purchased their permit and were ready to go. “We thank the city for being willing to work with us on it,” Andrew expressed.
They purchased some newly-hatched chicks and began to raise them in a portable chicken coop which Andrew built himself. Some of the chicks turned out to be roosters so they were re-homed with an Amish family, as the city ordinance only allows hens. They currently have a flock of about 14 chickens.
“It’s (the chickens) a good customer interest thing,” Andrew said. He and Lisa have noticed a lot of their customers stopping by the coop to check out the chickens, especially if they have children along. The neighbors don’t mind the chickens either. “Nobody’s been anything but positive about the whole thing,” noted Andrew. The Kingsleys haven’t decided if they will increase the flock next year as they already have a lot going on with their greenhouse expansion, new partnership with Oak Hill Farm Daylilies, etc. Since opening Harmony Gardens and Floral in August 2016, they have kept very busy. “We have to keep growing or we won’t be able to remain viable over the long run,” Andrew said.
The kids had a lot of fun being creative in naming all of the chickens. Caramel, Eagle, Galaxy, Shadow, and Stripe are just a few. Produce that hasn’t sold and is going bad is fed to the chickens, which is a chore the kids love doing. They’ll eat just about anything from tomatoes and carrots to watermelon and cherries. They are also great at rooting up the ground to search for bugs to eat and their droppings are good fertilizer. However, they aren’t free-range and have to stay within their pen per city ordinance. The portable chicken coop was made so that it could be moved approximately every other day, allowing the chickens fresh ground to peck at. This isn’t just beneficial for the chickens though. “It’s good for the ground,” Andrew pointed out. When he built the coop, he made it sturdy so they wouldn’t have to worry about it tipping over. That does make it harder to move around the grounds, but it’s better than the alternative.
The Kingsleys have toyed with the idea of eventually selling eggs as well, but the chickens haven’t gotten to the age where they’re laying yet. At this point, they’re not sure if they will winter the chickens or butcher them, but the kids are definitely in support of wintering them. “I think they’re really cool,” seven-year-old Liberty said about the chickens. “I like that we can hold them.”