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It's always the zoning.

Nationally, we have seen the resurgence in the past few years towards education on how to build better, and green, and how to eat better, and green. Following that sentiment, there has been a rise in urban sustainability, and with that, a surge of interest in urban farming.

As a green building business owner, I have become knowledgeable in all sorts of codes and successful standards that other cities and leaders are achieving throughout North America. Ask me who the leaders in greywater are- or rainwater filtration, or what states are not only supporting but offering incentives for their residents to build green...
What I have repeatedly said is this: we have the educated industry, we have the educated consumer. What lags is outdated and non-reconsidered zoning laws and construction loans.
Here I face it again, in the issue of sustainability, locally.
Now I'm no hippie. But I do grow lettuce and spinach attractively in my front yard.

I watch what we eat, I have always had a vegetable garden in an urban environment, and now I would like some eggs without traveling to our friends' farms.
After watching other cities nationally see a reconsideration and support of urban farming, I just have to shake my head when encountering my local government representatives that won't even discuss rethinking their policies towards limited livestock in a sub/urban environment.
I've sat in zoning meetings. Most of the people before the board of supervisors are there to rezone agricultural to "mixed-use." And without too many questions, they stamp their approval readily. But ask them to consider two laying hens within an enclosed yard with a 6" high privacy fence? They won't even bring it to the table for discussion.
Normally I would dismiss them for what I assess them as (Which assessment I will refrain from sharing- I did not immediately come to that conclusion; it came only after much interaction and experience with said officials.); but as someone who volunteers a lot, who is aware of the critical point that those less fortunate are suffering in our area, the low reserves of stock in the local Food Bank, the rising costs of food... I say, "How DARE you?"
How DARE you not support your area in sustainability, in giving local children, your constituents, fresh eggs and milk?
I went to register my child in our local kindergarten last week, and it was clear to me that many of these families, a good percentage immigrants, came from large urban cities where livestock and poultry were successfully raised in urban environments and on whom families depended upon for their own food source, were now here and denied that same self-sufficiency and sustenance. And less fortunate people here have done so, for generations, and depended upon it, but just never cared as to the legality of what they did.

But I do care about whether it's legal, because it's not just a matter of myself, but to assure others they may do so. I certainly don't intend to sneak around with my laying hens.
I'm not asking for roosters, I'm not asking for meat production, hence large quantities of fowl. But allow hens, responsibly; allow two 50 pound mini-goats for milk. In my county you can have three 200 pound mastiffs, and that would be fine. But a chicken? Not possible.
Make it possible.
These officials are denying their citizens a very basic right, and I can not understand how they think it is ok to regulate it down to a ban on poultry. (Oh, disclosure: they say it is ok if you can have the coop 400 feet away from the residence. How big is your back yard? And yet the average chicken run on a farm is ten feet by three-ish feet?)
How big is MY back yard? Plenty large for mastiffs, but too small for a... HEN?

Any neglected and un-picked-up-after animal will cause a stench. Imagine yourself living next to neighbors who did not pick up after their dogs within their own enclosed yards, and there you are on a happy spring morning in your yard, and that's what wafts over to you on the sunny breeze. Is that pleasant, is that right? No, but it's legal.
Can't we instead reconsider responsibility for all animals, and restrict all breeds to a certain, responsible number?
I'm asking for eggs and milk, fresh organic veggies not sprayed by my neighbors' Chemlawn, and the right to bring my own eggs to my table.
It just doesn't feel right that a board of supervisors, so remote from my reality, should have the right to disagree with what my family decides to eat. Good food, raised ourselves, affordably.
For those that would like to learn more:
Here are a bunch of urban farming links and zoning information:

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At 2/14/09, 1:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are some other links:

Building Place


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