Nestled comfortably between a bed of straw and overly zealous heat lamps, a chorus of chirping chicks delicately chimes “hello” amongst the roar of Plant Operations.
Trevecca’s J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice is in the process of purchasing 120 three-day-old chicks to eventually sell organic eggs to the cafeteria and local food markets.
Chicks become part of TNU's urban farm. Photo by: JJ Justice
These chickens reflect Trevecca’s newly hatched sustainability efforts, including an organic greenhouse, newly planted fruit trees and the purchase of a biodiesel machine.
Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator, is coordinating efforts for Trevecca to be faithful in environmental stewardship, both on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We’re trying to serve the neighborhood through these garden initiatives and creating food access, and the eggs are part of that,” Adkins said.
The chicks are being fed an organic feed mixture of corn, wheat, and other small grains. Adkins purchased the feed from a local organic farmer in Orlinda, Ten., a small town located about an hour north of Nashville.
This is the first time in more than 60 years that Trevecca will house an eight-breed assortment of chickens, Adkins said. While other college cafeterias serve organic products, Trevecca is the only Nashville university to raise organic eggs on their campus.
“Because we are a campus over 20 acres, we are exempt from city restriction on farming,” Adkins said. “So that’s exciting—we could have cows.”
Though currently incubating indoors, chickens will soon be free to range outside in late August, enclosed in a pen near the Plant Operations building. Once the enclosure and coop are built, the chickens will cost roughly $25 a week to feed and maintain.
Adkins said he estimates the 120 chickens will produce 500 eggs a week, equating to a possible $200 a week profit for the Center. The money will be used to support and expand Trevecca’s urban farm.
Adkins said the Center plans to work with customers’ budgets, giving Pioneer Catering, Trevecca’s catering company, a cost effective alternative to their Sysco supplier while charging the higher end customers the full market value of $5 a dozen.
Jamie Casler, director of the Center, said he’s anticipating students will be able to learn practical skills through this project. Students from all majors will be able to participate in the chicken care.
“It’s not just us doing it as a university, but it’s also an education tool to train students in learning techniques and replicating them down the road,” Casler said. “This project is open to the whole university, anybody who wants to learn these skills: faculty, staff, as well as students are welcome to join in the effort as well.”
Interesting facts on the chicken breeds at Trevecca
- Leghorns: if you buy white eggs from the grocery store, they’re most likely from this breed
- Barred Rock: the first breed commercially used for meat.
- Rhode Island Reds: this chicken is Rhode Island’s state bird
- Buff Orpingtons: this breed has a very laid back personality and makes a great family pet
- Cuckoo Murahs: lay deep, dark red eggs
- Red Sex Links: a crossed breed of chicken that’s sex is determined by it’s color
- Production Reds: this breed can lay over 300 eggs a year
- Ameraucana: this breed lays blue and green eggs, called the “Easter Egger”