Solar Powered Front Yard Chicken Coops

Nancy and Peter Zander were your typical fabulous New Yorkers.  Nancy worked as an art and antiques dealer for years uptown and Peter was a fashion photographer, who now focuses on lifestyle photography and is also an inventor.  When the need for more space hit, they decided to move their family out of the city to a farm in Katonah, NY.  Embracing their new lifestyle, their youngest daughter Clara (then 8, now 16) asked for a chicken.  Peter had chickens growing up and Nancy loved the thought of having fresh eggs in the morning, so they bought five chickens.

Now, almost a decade later, the entire Zander family has made eating sustainably a major part of their lives.  Peter recently invented the Front Yard Coop (above), the first solar powered, self-propelled chicken coop that merges green technology, natural food, sustainable agriculture and a chic design all in one.  The deluxe “Full Monty” Coop has a solar powered motor that gradually moves the coop approximately 16 feet per hour, giving caged chickens limitless free range space across your yard.  At 4′ wide x 8′ long, the coop is perfect for up to six standard sized birds.  And if the coop bumps into something, it automatically turns itself around and moves in another direction.  The coop holds food and water for days, dispensing it automatically.  Chemical fertilizers for your lawn are also eliminated because the birds fertilize it naturally for you!


Nancy and Peter’s daughters, Clara and Ella, have also contributed to the farm.  A few years after Clara got her chickens, she stopped eating all meat.  After a few months, she decided to eat meat again, but only if she was certain it was raised humanely and happily.  The family embraced this idea in full force and now only eats sustainably raised meats from farms or farmers they know well or animals they’ve raised themselves and the same goes for produce.  At 16, Clara is spending her second summer as part of the paid staff in the livestock department at Stone Barns, an 80-acre non-profit farm, educational center and restaurant designed to promote sustainable, community-based food production.  She has become an heirloom poultry expert, lecturing and hosting workshops on raising heirlooms.  Clara also gives flock consultations and raises, breeds and shows rare ducks and chickens, all of which she also sells.  The Zander’s oldest daughter, Ella, is in the writing department at Emerson College and is working at Morning Glory Farm, a vegetable farm on Martha’s Vineyard this summer.

In addition to managing Running Duck Farm (the family chicken farm) and the Front Yard Coop business, Nancy is a garden and interior designer and she even lectures on raising chickens and eating sustainably!  I asked Nancy what type of chickens are best for their coops and she advised that Cornish Cross chickens are great birds because they’re smart, strong foragers, and good free range birds.  As a side note, Nancy also keeps her farm fresh eggs on the counter and not in the fridge.

After speaking to Nancy at length, I felt like farm livin’ is the life for me!  How cool that Nancy and Peter only live a few dozen miles outside Manhattan, with the luxury of going “city” or “country” as they please.  And what an awesome lifestyle they have created for their family.


For information on renting or purchasing a chicken coop, click here.

All photos courtesy of Peter & Clara Zander, peterzander.com.



Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Email

Other Posts From OnMyPlate:

5 Responses to “Solar Powered Front Yard Chicken Coops”

  1. Scott Schneider July 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    A few seasons back on Top Chef, in one of the final episodes (perhaps the finale itself), some very well known chefs are invited to be guest judges. I’m pretty sure the theme of the episode was last suppers. Anyway, at one point, the All-Star panel of chefs go around and offer up what they would eat as a last meal. When it came to Wylie Dufresne, the gastronomy guru, I remember being surprised to hear him say: a perfectly cooked egg. This, from a guy who is known for some really out-there stuff. The other judges were no less thrown by his answer.

    Since then, I’ve really come to appreciate it. A perfectly cooked egg is surprisingly difficult to pull off (still probably haven’t done it) and simply delicious. A properly cooked omelette is really tough to execute too.

    What the Zanders have done is ingenious. The Front Yard Coop will be something I own one day (can’t see it working on the 17th floor). Meanwhile, I’ll discuss it on my blog, where we explore awesome things made in the good ol’ USA. Super cool. Thanks!

    • nan zander July 18, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      would love to see your blog–what is it called?

      • melissa July 18, 2011 at 9:41 am #

        Hi Nan! Scott’s site is called ApplePieGuy.com. It just launched and is already creating a lot of buzz!

  2. gluttonforlife July 18, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    So interesting. And the debut issue of Lucky Peach is full of egg recipes, btw…

  3. Sam I am February 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    We have been thinking of getting some chickens, but have felt daunted by the coop…. I love the idea of the FYC! I’d love some more detail on the way it works on a lawn…. We have a brand new beautiful yard and would hate to see it ruined… How much damage should we expect there to be?? Also, how much daily sunlight is needed to charge the battery? We have a lot of trees!!!
    Thanks for any additional info you can give me!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four − = one

Warning: sprintf(): Too few arguments in /home/melsko/onmyplate.com/wp-includes/widgets.php on line 1051

Warning: sprintf(): Too few arguments in /home/melsko/onmyplate.com/wp-includes/widgets.php on line 1051

Home     Subscribe      Contact     About      Web Design      Illustration      Graphic Design