“Trish Tervit is a friendly mom, an executive with a buzzing iPhone and an outlaw urban farmer collecting eggs on borrowed time.
Her hens — Pippi, Mabel and Elli — peer through a sliding-glass door, schnauzer-like, into Tervit’s Upper Beach semi-detached home.
“I blame my daughter’s Grade 6 teacher,” who brought cute chicks to class, triggering the inevitable “Can we get chickens?” plea from both of Tervit’s daughters.
She had refused other pets, citing allergies, but couldn’t think of a reason to say no to hens. Research, which included buying a used copy of Raising Chickens for Dummies for $5 on eBay, told her chickens are banned by the city. Toronto’s growing urban agriculture community is pressing for change.
“I realized that if I waited for the city to make a decision on it, my kids would be in university by then. So I thought, I’m just going to see what happens, and it was going tickety-boo fine for a year and a half.”
A friend built a secure wooden coop with “Fresh Eggs” on the wall and a heat lamp inside. Tervit’s raised-from-chick “girls” get all the corn they can peck. She gets coop-to-pan omelettes.
“We have a lot of fun,” she said. “People think it’s pretty hilarious, but it’s teaching kids a little about where their food comes from, that there are ways to sustain yourself, and that chickens can walk around and eat grass and be chickens, as opposed to other ways egg production takes place.”
But, in October, Tervit got a city notice saying a neighbour had made an unspecified complaint. (She says she notices no smell, and the hens make less noise than neighbourhood dogs.) Her city councillor, Mary-Margaret McMahon, advised her to hold tight….”