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City Farm invites aspiring urban farmers to meet local chicks -- and ducks

April 27, 2011 |  1:52 pm

ChickensIt wasn't long ago that a vacant, one-acre lot in Glassell Park was home to little more than weeds, black walnut trees and sumac. Now it's the home of five dozen chickens and a couple dozen ducks, all of which roam the open land and lay eggs on the City Farm, which bills itself as "a little bit of country in Glassell Park."

This Sunday, the City Farm is welcoming visitors to its hillside perch to show how it's managed to keep its flock not only alive but thriving.

"We definitely had some speed bumps," said Reies Flores, who runs the City Farm with his wife and sells his truly free-range eggs for $5 per dozen.

Flores, 33, has been raising chickens since 2005, when he leased the land from a neighbor and purchased 25 chicks from a hatchery. All but one of those chicks were eaten by a coyote who "literally broke down the back fence and came in and ate them all," Flores said.

With one depressed chicken left, Flores purchased half a dozen more from a local pet shop. Then the original surviving chicken was picked off by a raccoon.   

Slowly Reies learned how to keep his flock safe, which he does through a combination of fencing and corraling his birds into a predator-proof coop each night. He's hoping through his open house that aspiring chicken farmers can learn from his mistakes.

"Every once in a while, we'll get a bird nabbed," said Reies, a substitute high school teacher who also works as an urban agriculture consultant. "But it's 1,000 times better than when we first started."

What: City Farm open house

Where: City Farm, east end of Loma Lada Drive, Los Angeles 90065

When: Sunday, May 1, 10 a.m.-noon

Cost: Free

Info: (323) 919-6518 or thecityfarm@hotmail.com

 -- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Free-range chickens scratching on a Mt. Washington hillside. Credit: Reies Flores