If there are any doubts about the viability of Edendale Farm — which Kahn built, improbably, on a sloping half-acre smack in the middle of a swanky Silver Lake neighborhood — the mealtime menus should quell them.
The workers were chewing in silence, gazing happily out at the shady yard, when they noticed that something seemed off. The landscape was moving — and clucking.
Half a dozen hens had flown the coop and were now scattered about the farm, hunting worms.
“It’s a revolution!” cried Francois Feutrie, 27, an artist from France who with his girlfriend is volunteering on the farm in exchange for meals, showers and place to pitch a tent.
Kahn, 59, sighed and put down his fork.
“Let’s go, ladies,” he said, clapping his tan hands to shoo the birds back to their roost.
The rhythm of chickens, the ring of wind chimes, the spray of the garden hose — this is the tempo of life on Edendale Farm. Kahn founded it five years ago to show that a slower pace is possible, even in a metropolis such as Los Angeles.
Kahn, who was born in Egypt and speaks with an accent, says he hopes the farm will teach people “there’s another way to live.”
A handful of urban farms have cropped up in the neighborhood in the past decade or so, including Silver Lake Farms. Kahn says he also knows of at least 15 families in the area that raise chickens in their back yards.
Still, when Kahn first persuaded his friends Louise and Jozef Bilman to let him tear up the elegant lawn behind their white Southern Revival home and replace it with planting beds, some neighbors were skeptical. When he added chickens to the mix, one woman worried that the entire block might catch avian flu.
Five years later, the neighborhood has embraced the farm.
Parents take their children here to feed the chickens their favorite treat: pink flowers from the bougainvillea vines that grow like weeds. Other neighbors bake quiche for Kahn in exchange for eggs. The farm occasionally hosts cooking lessons and by-donation yoga classes, and Kahn dreams of building a stage for bands and community theater.
For now, only the eggs are for sale. Most of the crops — which include carrots, mushrooms, passion fruit and sugar cane — go to feed the volunteers who help Kahn keep the operation running.
The food is grown organically, without pesticides, and is irrigated with gray water from the laundry machine and shower.
“Everything is a resource,” Kahn said. “Even our waste.”
One of his favorite books is “The Humanure Handbook.” Among his proudest accomplishments are two composting toilets.
A hand-lettered sign inside one of toilets reads: “Urine is the best fertilizer for tomatoes. Thank you for contributing to our tomatoes!”