Southeast Texans flock to backyard chickens and gardening

On a sunny afternoon you'll probably find Danita Fierce working on her garden in the backyard of her Beaumont home, or feeding her chickens... a practice that Fierce says has become quite popular.

"Two doors down I have a neighbor who does chickens, and then there's someone on Calder who has a bunch also," said Fierce.

At Tractor Supply Co. in Beaumont, which sells baby chicks and ducks on Wednesdays and Thursdays, manager Kyle Curtis says the chicks are a hot commodity.

"Today we had 50 birds gone within 20 minutes," said Curtis.

Fierce says the reason she has chickens is for their eggs.

"The taste is just 110% different, there's no comparison... the yolk is creamier," said Fierce.

Fierce's real passion, however, is her gardening.

"It makes you feel good when you can say, 'This is my salad, I grew this salad'," she said.

According to the National Gardening Association, home gardening in the U.S. increased 28% from 2008 to 2012.

The Giving Fields across from Saint Anne Catholic School is one of the best community gardens in Beaumont. It was created in October 2012 and has more than 50 beds of fruits and vegetables that are donated to local soup kitchens.

"We have a lot of people that'll come out on our open work days. They want to know how to do this, and they want to know it because they want to start one in their backyard," said The Giving Fields co-founder Sharon Begnaud.

"More people are aware of the chemicals that may be used in food that they purchase, and they're not sure where it comes from... also our population's getting a little older, and they're wanting to pass that information on to their grand kids," said Jeanene Ebeling with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.

Fierce says concern about chemicals is just a small reason she grows vegetables in her backyard, and encourages others to see what's so special about food that's home grown.


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