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March 24, 2014

N.H. students get lessons in farm life

N.H. students head into fowl territory

CONCORD, N.H. — The story of chickens is coming to New Hampshire students.

A state-backed farm advocacy program is recruiting volunteers to help teach children about chickens, even as communities struggle with how homeowners can live in harmony with their hobby farmer neighbors.

Volunteers will read Hannah Ray’s “Down on the Farm: Chickens” to students across the state, including Rockingham County, during the next few weeks.

Kickoff is tied to National Agriculture Day tomorrow, but officials said presentations could take place as late as May, depending on school schedules.

“Please join our ‘flock’ of volunteers to read the book in a local classroom sometime between now and the middle of April,” the New Hampshire Agriculture in the Classroom program said in a recent appeal.

There’s a lesson plan and the program would like volunteers to have company when they go to school.

“If you can bring along a chicken friend or two, even better,” the group said.

Debbi Cox, state coordinator for the program, said chickens are the latest topic in an annual series that in prior years has looked at dairy farming, maple sugaring and beekeeping.

“We try to find volunteers to go into the school and read a book,” Cox said. “The ultimate goal is to just enlighten everyone, primarily elementary students, about how important agriculture is in their lives.”

She said chickens are all around, even if children — or grownups — just think they come from the grocery store.

“I live in Derry and we have chickens in our neighborhood,” Cox said.

Derry knows about chickens.

The Planning Board will hold a hearing as soon as next month about new proposed regulations prompted by complaints to town officials about crowing roosters.

The draft ordinance introduces a previously unrequired 20-foot setback from the property line. It also would mandate that chickens not just be properly enclosed, but at all times.

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