Open Letter to The White House Garden

Dear President Obama, Mrs. Obama, Sasha, Malia, White House Executive Chef Comerford and Kass,

I am so happy that you have a White House Garden and White House bees. It is really inspiring. One thing though. You are missing something. Happy chickens. I believe that adding a small chicken coop to the White House Garden would provide you and your chefs with tasty, nutritious eggs and I am sure all of you would love the hens. Aside from super tasty eggs, the hens could help "weed" and fertilize your garden and hoop houses. I let a few of my hens into the garden and they like to eat the weeds and it is really fun to listen to them march around the garden while I am working. Actually they are all really hysterical. I have one hen Paprika who is The Boss. I do whatever she says. They all have very diverse, interesting and different personalities. I have some shy chickens, some bossy and some very outgoing.

For the White House Garden I would recommend about a dozen hens. If all goes well most days you'd go out to the coop and have a dozen eggs! Collecting the eggs is awesome, I actually think it is sort of like treasure hunting. Somehow, despite the fact that I have had hens for 4 years now, I still find collecting the eggs really exciting. A few of my hens lay blue eggs. Yup, blue. They are called Americaunas (also Arucaunas). Obviously there are many interesting breeds to consider for the White House Garden. I would also choose one heritage breed hen and focus on that one breed - Orpingtons. While I didn't do that myself when starting out, I have learned that this is a good thing to do. If you do have your good egg laying hens you could then spice up your flock with a few fancies. This is what I have done in the past and it has worked out well because I still get very tasty eggs but whenever people come to see my birds there jaws always drop with amazement and are naturally more interested in chickens. There are many great fancy breeds such as Polishes, Hamburgs, Cochins, Sultans, Sumatras, Silkies, Modern Games and many more. Those are better when acquired after the farmer has had chickens. Heritage breeds are all reflected in The Standard of Perfection, the American Poultry Association's book of pure breeds, they are breeds that have been around forever. In fact, there are many Heritage breeds that are actually very rare, so it is worthwhile to try and help these breeds.

There are many details about keeping chickens that we can discuss later - the coop, the food, perching, dust bathing, health. There are many people who know a lot more than I do so we can ask them for some advice too. I wish I knew everything, but I don't. What I do know is that eggs from happy chickens will make you happy, the chefs happy, your garden happy, and honestly me too. 

There is a bit of confusion currently whether chickens are legal in DC, however, officials in the mayor's office say there is currently no law prohibiting raising chickens within city limits if residents follow guidelines on proper animal care and shelter. Washington D.C. Section 902 of the Animal Control Code requires hens to be 50 ft. from any residence.

Thank you for reading this letter, I sure hope you will consider this. It is bound to make the White House Organic Garden very happy.

Orren Fox


PamelaPrice said...

Rock on, @happychickens!

LisaG said...

Excellent! Inspiring!

Kimberly said...

This. Is AWESOME!!! We have 9 chickens (two are accidental roosters, but oh well!) and I 100% agree with you that a dozen hens at the White House would be fantastic! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Orren, your passion is just contagious! Your letter shows this passion & knowledge. When I learned about you through twitter what intrigued me was YOUR story-that you are 13 yrs old! I think that may be your 'in' to getting your letter noticed amongst the thousands of other letters the WH receives. I'd open the letter with a paragraph or two about who you are, how you have come to love chickens, bees and gardening,a bit about your philosophy and how you've learned so much.(This will appeal directly to Mrs. Obama) I'd also suggest that you pick some great photo's of your chickens and you with your chickens to include! Last-make sure you put all your contacts & references so that they can 'vet' you (investigate) for future contact...(keep it anonymous online, but your parents names, #'s etc.) Hope that helps! Good Luck and keep twitterland abreast of your progress! Trish @tgnh on twitter

stellaforstar said...

Hi Orren, I think this looks great. it really reflects your personality and your enthusiasm, as well as your expertise! Don't change a thing and send it on over to the White House.

Geoff Egan said...


In the fourth to last paragraph it's "their jaws" not "there jaws". And it should be "they are naturally more interested" rather than just "are naturally more interested", since jaws alone can't be interested at all.

Otherwise, an awesome letter-as somebody said your passion and learning shines through.

Love the blog-you are making it very difficult for me to rationalize not becoming a vegetarian!

Julia W said...

Hi Orren, this is Julia Worcester from Humane Teen. Just a few suggestions- your letter is amazing!!!! First, you should definitely include a short paragraph of background information about how you got into chickens, I think Sasha and Malia would find this interesting. Also, you might want to suggest that the chickens be completely vegetarian- we wouldn't want them becoming a dinner at the White House! And by taking care of their chickens humanely, who knows, Sasha and Malia could even become involved in Humane Teen!

Jennifer Scarlott said...

Orren, what a great idea! Chickens at the White House is a natural progression from what Michele Obama and others have already accomplished... I second Julia that you might want to include in your letter just a brief bit of advice about what the White House should do with the chickens after they pass egg-laying age... a nice, humane place for them to go, not to someone's dinner table?! Good luck Orren, I hope it works out!


Glenda Martinez said...

cool,I atualy like it .Now i'm really inspierd by chikens