Join Jason Myers-Benner and the Oak Spring Bio-Cultural Conservation Farm (BCCF) for a workshop on chicken homesteading.


In the past several years, interest in self-sufficiency and acquiring produce locally has been on the rise as people become more reliant on themselves and their local communities for food. An important part of self sufficiency and local agriculture is the production of protein, which is where our beloved Chicken enters the equation! The purpose of this course is to provide participants with a basic understanding of what it takes to raise chickens for eggs and meat on your own homefarm, market farm, or in the backyard. Participants will be able to interact with the BCCF’s heritage and locally bred chicken flock to gain knowledge on the systems and processes of daily care, habitat, acquiring, incubating, and hatching their own chickens. Topics of conversation will include breed selection, best production practices, processing practices, and egg handling. Finally participants will be able to propose and work through their own hypothetical or real chicken flock design involving anything from coop structures to hatching procedures.

Participants will partake in two days of lecture and discussion at Oak Spring, in Upperville, VA and an optional farm tour at Tangly Woods Farm in Keezletown, VA on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

Optional Tangly Woods Farm Tour:

In addition to the weekend long workshop from Saturday, April 6 – Sundy April 7, 2024, on Satutday April 13, 2024, participants are invited to travel to Keezletown, VA to tour Tangly Woods Farm and take a deeper look at a well developed chicken raising and breeding operation. There participants will have see how the Myers-Benner family integrates chickens within their backyard ecosytems.

Please note: This workshop does not include a tour of Little Oak Spring including the Library, Formal Garden or Landscape. Additionally, participants are responsible for their own transportation to Tangly Woods Farm on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

What to Bring:

  • A pair of boots and a secondary pair of shoes
  • Weather appropriate clothing that can get dirty
  • Notebook or laptop to take notes on
  • Water bottle

Complimentary Items: A boxed lunch will be provided on Saturday, April 6, 2024 and the group will have a catered lunch on Sunday, April 7, 2024. When purchasing ticket(s) for the Saturday lunch, you will select either:

1) A turkey sandwich


2) A gluten-free, vegan option

Exact menus will be determined closer to the date of the event. All lunches will include a small side such as a fruit salad, or chips. Please note that unfortunately, we can not accommodate specific dietary needs. If you have dietary restrictions and are unable to eat the provided lunch, please plan to pack a sack lunch. Participants able to attend the Tangly Wood Tour on Saturday, April 13, 2024 are expected to bring your own lunch.

What To Expect: Please expect several hours of moderate walking across hilly fields and similar uneven terrain. Participants should arrive with proper footwear, sufficient water, and dress appropriately for the weather, rain or shine. Binoculars and digital cameras encouraged.

Eligibility: This workshop is open to individuals with an interest in homesteading and raising chickens. No prior experience is needed.

Required Precautions

To protect from Avian Influenza and other poultry affecting diseases, we are asking participants of the Getting Into Chickens Workshop to join us in taking the following extremely important precautions.

This list mainly pertains to anyone who works with poultry either at home, for their job, or both. For those who do not interact with poultry on a regular basis, these precautions are still important to read, understand, and follow.

  1. No participant should travel to the workshop immediately after having contact with any other domesticated poultry. If morning poultry chores are necessary, participants should change all clothing and footwear prior to arriving at the workshop.
  2. Come with 2 pairs of footwear, one for use while in chicken spaces and one for use outside of chicken spaces.
  3. Make sure all outerwear clothing, i.e. jackets, boots, pants, hats, gloves, are cleaned or sanitized before showing up to the course on Saturday and clothing worn to the workshop does not come in contact with any outside poultry for the duration of the weekend.
  4. Boots to be worn in the chicken coop can be left at Oak Spring overnight for the second day of the workshop.
  5. Hands should be washed and sanitized prior to handling any Oak Spring poultry.
  6. Prior to stepping into the chicken coop and after stepping out of the chicken coop, a bleach bath will be provided for footwear.
  7. Clothing worn in the presence of Oak Spring poultry should be changed or washed prior to visiting any other domesticated birds.
  8. If a participant’s poultry is showing signs of respiratory disease or abnormal die offs, they should not attend the workshop.

Questions or concerns regarding biosecurity can be directed to Nick Sette: [email protected]

About Tangly Woods: Tangly Woods Homestead is a home-scale farm located in lovely Keezletown, VA at the foot of Massanutten Mountain. Tangly Woods has developed several locally adapted breeds of chickens, bred several locally adapted garden and grain plants, and stewarded a number of heritage and heirloom varieties as well. These are the plants and animals that feed our family and connect us to the land, and we’d enjoy helping you do the same. Contact us for seeds, starts, or hatching eggs. Tours and workshops available by special arrangement.

About Oak Spring Garden Foundation: The Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OSGF) is a philanthropic foundation based at the former primary estate of the late Paul and Rachel Mellon, who were major philanthropists in the U.S. of the arts, humanities, and sciences in the second half of the twentieth century. OSGF is located in the northern Virginia Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains region (ca. one-hour drive from Washington, D.C.). Led by Sir Peter Crane, the Foundation’s inaugural President, OSGF provides workshops, short courses and supports residencies for artists and scholars. Its celebrated Library comprises rare books, manuscripts and works of art relating to horticulture, landscape design, botany and natural history. It is becoming a new center of stimulation of all things botanical, from fundamental research in plant evolution and conservation, to horticultural and plant conservation practice, to the history and art of plants, gardens and landscapes.

Photo Release Statement: By attending this event, you consent to your likeness and image being used for ongoing promotional and marketing efforts.

Availability: Getting Into Chickens will be capped at 15 participants. Registrations will be accepted on a rolling basis through Eventbrite until full.

There are scholarships available for educators to help cover the cost of this workshop. If you are interested in this workshop and need financial assistance, please reach out to [email protected]. Thanks!