The FARM Institute is a non-profit teaching farm that has been renting the historic Katama Farm from the town of Edgartown since 2005. They run programs for every age: from 2 year-olds through adults. In the summer they have farm camp and day programs; in the off-season they invite island students to visit the farm on field trips. It is a priority to get their produce into the school cafeterias whenever possible. This month they donated 48 dozen eggs to the schools for lunch and Harvest of the Month tastings.We talked last fall with Julie Scott, former farm manager at The FARM Institute, to get her perspective on raising chicks and eggs. What is the process of raising chickens, from chick to egg? We get our chicks from a hatchery, normally from the Midwest. We get them as day old chicks, and they come in the mail! We have what is called a brooder- an insulated area that we can keep warm and really control the temperature, so the chicks can stay nice and warm. They like it at about 96 degrees for at least three weeks, and then we can slowly decrease the temperature as we see fit. We have heat lamps hanging, so if they’re cold, they’ll all be huddled under the lamp, and that means we need to make it a little warmer. If they’re too hot, they’ll all be scattered really far away, so we really watch the birds to make sure that they are comfortable. Depending on the time of year, they could stay in the brooder anywhere from six weeks or longer, if it is the dead of winter. Then we move them to a stall in the barn, which is still protected but not heated, and when they are fully feathered and ready, they move out to our egg mobiles - our henhouses with wheels - and they live free-range out in the field alongside either the sheep or the cows, which we think helps with predators. It takes about four months, if you’re lucky, to get an egg, but usually it takes about six. The hatcheries only have chicks available from March through November, so we usually get them August-November, so they’re ready to lay in spring and summer, when we have our markets.