AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you want to make sure you don’t run out of eggs, and help out the environment in the process, Austin Resource Recovery can show you how to do that.
The city agency held its first chicken keeping class online since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and its aim is to guide people through the process. It also serves as a way for people to keep their egg supply stocked in case another shortage happens like it did in the early days of the pandemic.
Noelle Bugaj, who started keeping chickens five years ago, works with Austin Resource Recovery and teaches the classes on chicken keeping. There has been an increase in people taking the chicken keeping classes since the city started offering them in 2017.
In 2017, 259 took the class, that number jumped in 2018 to 439, then last year a total of 169 took the class. Only 63 have taken the class this year. Austin Resource Recovery officials said the reason this year’s number is low is because they had to pause the classes (which were normally done in person) until they figured out an online option. They hosted the first online class Thursday.
However, the number of people signing up for the rebate continues to grow.
Bugaj said the pandemic helped “sort of kick that into hyperdrive.”
“People who had been considering keeping chickens, considering gardening or considering composting actually decided to take that step forward during this weird time that we’re living in and I don’t see that going away,” Bugaj said.
With the class comes a rebate from the city. Following the class, people can go buy a chicken coop and keep chickens to receive a $75 rebate. Keeping chickens helps reduce food waste, provides natural fertilizer for your yard and is a natural way to control insects.
So far, 21 people have applied for the rebate in 2020. That’s up from 10 when the rebate program began in 2017. In total 74 people have signed up for the rebate since the program started three years ago.
Keeping chickens also helps with composting, and the city says it’s a way people can help Austin reach its zero waste goal of reducing food waste being sent to landfills by 90% by 2040.
Paul Mauricio Cambilargiu is an Austinite who recently completed one of the classes, and he says it’s an easy way to become self-sustaining and helping the environment at the same time.
“It really started with an approach of having to go out less. The supply chain falling short of the demand is certainly a big concern,” he said. “Chickens are a very easy, very accessible sustainable practice.”
Only Austinites who pay the Clean Community Fee are eligible for the rebate.