NORTH BAY -- Finding a way to bring country to the comfort of your own home, Pine Ridge Acres in Powassan is offering farm fresh eggs and a hands on experience.

“I think the program itself brings in a whole different aspect, right?” said Kendra Dehaan who is launching a new rent-a-coop program.

“We’re used to going to the grocery store and just grabbing our food, not putting much thought into the whole process as to where this food comes from, what work is put into this food for us.”

The rent-a-coop program is set to launch in May, giving people the opportunity to rent hens and all their supplies for the summer months.

“We had actually seen another farm doing something similar to this where it seemed to be something of interest,” she said.

“We’ve always just wanted to educate more of the people in animals, in growing your own local produce and stuff and we thought this might be the best opportunity.”

“It costs $350 for the basic package, which comes with two chickens and the coop as well as the feeder, the waterer and one bag of feed,” she added.

There are additional options as well allowing people to upgrade for more hens if they want to take on more than two.

Although this program is the first of its kind in the area, similar programs have been running successfully for years in southern Ontario, including Belbeck’s Family Farm which has been part of ‘Rent The Chicken’ since 2015.

“I thought we’ll just build a couple of coops and we’ll never fill them and that’ll be the end of it,” explained Kate Belbeck.

“It was much, much more than I ever expected, even in that first year and it’s continued to grow every year since 2015 and we’ve sold out every single year and have a very large waiting list.”

Belbeck says there are many reasons to try out the program especially for people who are on the fence about owning animals full time.

“It takes some of the uncertainty out of learning,” she said.

“So if it’s something that you’ve never done before you’re not on your own, you have this complete starter package with everything you need. For a lot of urban chicken keepers, for example, it can be really hard for them to find where to source their chicken feed, especially in the beginning when it was a newer concept.”

“If they decide it’s not for them, they can chicken out anytime,” she added.

Although not up and running yet, Dehaan says the response locally has been exciting.

“We definitely didn’t expect it to take off so fast, but it has been very exciting for us to see lots of people asking lots of good questions and even take part in saying ‘I talked to the bylaw officers’ and taking their part in the whole program as well,” she said.

Each township has specific bylaws around owning backyard chickens. Right now the City of North Bay does not allow for backyard chickens unless you “own over two hectares of land and be zone a rural property” said Pine Ridge Acres in a Facebook post.

However, many of the other towns surrounding the city allow for their residents to take part in this opportunity.

“Our general area was Astorville, Powassan, Trout Creek, and Nipissing Regions,” said Dehaan.

“We have some interest in Burks Falls, we’ve also had interest in North Bay and Sturgeon as well.”

She says they are willing to travel a bit further to rent out their coops so that people can experience backyard farming.

“I think it gives a whole new aspect on grow local and it shows the whole process from like you feed and you water your chickens and you care for your chickens and they’ll give you the eggs as a reward.”

For most rental programs, the chickens are available from May until October depending on weather, giving residents a chance to test out their new pets for 5-6 months.

More information on Pine Ridge Acre’s program can be found on its Facebook page.