Stumped on what to get that special someone for Christmas this year? Gifts should come from the heart, but knowing your recipient is key. Do they love nature? Are they an animal person? Do they like breakfast and fresh eggs? If you answered yes to all three, then we have the “fantasy” gift for you.
By way of The Christmas Book by Neiman Marcus and Boynton Beach free-range farming champions Svetlana and Marty Simon, the Heritage Hen Mini Farm, complete with a Le Petit Trianon chicken coop, may be a bit much to wrap but will certainly make a statement come Christmas morning. The 2012 "Fantasy Gift" is more mansion than coop; this bespoke, Versailles-inspired boarding house makes for some plush digs for Heritage Hen Farms’ heritage-breed hens. The custom-made, multilevel dwelling is complete with a nesting area, a broody room (a hatching area), a nighttime roosting living room, a library complete with gardening and chicken books (for the human visitors), and customized feeding and watering trays. And what Le Petit Trianon home is complete without a grand chandelier? This “beau coop” shines some light on the situation with a crystal-drop chandelier, completing the interior with a touch of class.
Fledgling farmers, urbanite and yokel alike, will not be left in the woods with a $100K coop and an unruly flock of chickens. The package is as much a course on chicken farming as it is a Neiman Marcus dream gift. Buyers first get a farm consultation from the experts of Heritage Hen Farm, the Simons, who will survey the grounds, come up with a plan for the site and make two onsite farm visits once the coop and flock have settled, just to check up on things. Each coop comes with three to 10 heritage-breed hens, many of which are endangered or threatened, and are purposely selected based on region in order to thrive. Along with the coop, two raised vegetable/herb garden beds and two pasture trays will be installed. These beds are custom-designed to ensure maximum yield while allowing the chickens to enjoy the bounty (legumes and herbs are a favorite snack). The onsite visits are not just limited to chicken rearing but also an education on how to maximize the mini farms’ potential.
“We'll hold the future farmer's hand as we teach how to raise a healthy flock, to compost from hen house to garden bed, learn to grow herbs and vegetables for their table and flock, to sprout legumes, fodder and rotate pasture trays and experience the reward of self-sufficient permaculture,” Svetlana says.
At $100K, the mini farm lives up the moniker of “Fantasy Gift”—the coop may seem more dream then reality for most—but this gift is more than just a practice in self-reliance; it’s an act of sustainable living and a proactive conservation effort for breeds of chickens that have been phased out in industrial farming for more prolific egg-laying breeds. The heritage breeds selected by the Simons lay between two to four eggs a week—true super foods that are packed with nutritional benefits and come in an array of colors and shapes. Though they may look a little different from the white commodity eggs at the supermarket, just one of these eggs on a slice of toast will make a believer out of anyone.
As an added bonus, Neiman Marcus has pledged to donate $3,000 to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy for every mini farm purchased this holiday season, helping preserve these breeds for future generations of farmers. For more information about Heritage Hen’s mini farms, check out Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book here.