LINCOLN PARK — At least four chickens will be cooped up in front of Oscar Mayer Magnet School next spring thanks to a generous donation from one of the neighborhood's most popular bars.
The owners of The Hideout bar regularly donate to the school's garden project, but this year's donation of $9,600 was more than double the bar's previous donation with the hopes that a new coop would be painted to mirror the famed bar that doubles as a music venue.
"I can't wait to see the coop painted like The Hideout," said bar owner Mike Hinchsliff. "I'm hoping that they do. It would be pretty cool."
Hinchsliff's wife Anastasia started the garden project at the school, where their two children attend, in 2008. Since then, the project has grown to include four separate gardens on the school grounds and two giant compostors that are tended to by a sixth grade composting team.
Plans for the coop have been in the works for more than a year, and now that the funding is available, Oscar Mayer hopes to become the second Chicago Public Schools institution to house chickens.
"I've been writing grants and socking away money in the garden budget," said Anastasia Hinchsliff, who is also a teacher's assistant at the school. One of those grants from Whole Foods added $2,000 to the budget.
Parents at the school think the addition of chickens will add another facet to the real-world lessons of showing students where their food comes from.
"Chickens are kind of popular right now, and I think it's such a wonderful way for children to see how it works first hand," Anastasia Hinchsliff said.
Amy Zemnick, a parent and member of Oscar Mayer's Local School Council, said she was surprised by the donation, and was excited for her child in kindergarten to get involved with the project.
"A couple weeks ago I was walking by, and she [Anastasia] made some Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil, and they all loved it," Zemnick said. "It was amazing."
So far, the school's garden committee has attended "basic chicken 101 school," and has met a woman who will serve as the chicken advisor at the school.
Anastasia Hinchsliff hopes the coop and garden project will make the school a model for other schools in the city. She said she would like to one day get a beehive as well, but conceded that the project isn't looking to turn Oscar Mayer into an urban farm.
"These kids in the city, they don't grow up on the farm," said Mike Hinchsliff.