Urban gardener Seamus Ford of Austin helped plant another kind of seed that’s blossomed.
Jennifer Murtoff, a chicken consultant based in Oak Park, helped Ford with the idea of setting up his backyard chicken garden about a year ago. But she wasn’t a full-time consultant at the time. She was mainly working as a Spanish language writer and literature translator, but grew up on a Farm in Pennsylvanian and has loved birds, particular chickens, since childhood. She moved to Oak Park from Ohio in 2003. Murtoff, 35, met Ford last year and he encouraged her to set up her consulting business since she knows so much about chickens. She launched her solo business, Home to Roost Urban Chicken Consulting, this past April. Murtoff’s business has taken off since, mainly through word of mouth and her passing out business cards wherever she goes. She’s also goes by her nickname-chicken woman. She was even called that by her classmates growing up.
Murtoff takes her consulting and lifelong love of birds very seriously, but also has a good sense of humor about it. She owns a “chicken collection” as she describes it-clothes, paintings, all kinds of stuff, and she’s owned several exotic birds, including the two she has now.
She also works with schools in Chicago. The Academy for Global Citizenship, a charter school in Humboldt Park, recently asked Murtoff to be their official consultant for their academic program. Murtoff also admits to often being asked one particular question-does she eat chickens. Her answer usually leaves people cackling.
“I only eat chickens I don’t know,” she says.