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5/21/10

Mama We're All Crazy Now - Urban Chickens: Richmond's First Coop Tour!



For the past few Green Drinks in Richmond we have toured some great examples of environmentally friendly, LEED accredited architecture: a zero energy business and a refab home project utilizing many green touches, including geothermal energy.

For this Green Drinks, this professional organization made up of engineers, architects, urban planners, business owners, and green building enthusiasts toured another kind of structure... urban chicken coops.


Board of Supervisors and City Council Members everywhere should take note: people want chickens. 

Just as it is my job to keep abreast of national emerging trends and the latest news in my green building profession, if you are a B.O.S. or city council member you should notice by now that it is *beneficial* to your community to embrace sustainability, and that does not just include LEED accreditation.  This is your job, and to excel in it (which your citizens expect you to do), if you have failed to miss the articles on urban chickens and bees and food production that then reduce waste and household's strains on your already-stretched municipal services... well, I just don't get how you could fail to see this topic, honeychile, it's been in Time, and Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal... and... (this list goes on)

This is not just catching on in cities.  The country of Belgium is giving out free chickens to interested citizens to reduce waste and strain on their resources!

Residential culture is shifting from Chem Lawns to food production, and that includes eggs and meat.
Mama, we're all crazy now.



Lawz, chile, where IS this neighborhood goin'? To the birds, honeychile, to the birds.

Here's some notes I'd like to make about urban chickunz:
(from what we observed touring these home owner's back yard, urban coops)



1. Chicken rotation: Think of chicken rotation just like crop rotation in your garden- you don't want to plant tomatoes in the same spot every year, otherwise they'll become weak and diseased, why would you not move your chickens to fresh pasture every few months? This keeps your yard, and chickens, healthy and happy.

2. Plastic watering jugs, feed stations etc. aren't worth the savings you think you're getting - buy metal  versus the cheaper, will-certainly-crack-or-not-screw-together-correctly versions.

3. Before getting chickens: Consider: laying hens only lay really well the 1st year, and for many breeds, not in the winter. What next? Are you prepared for that? If so, and you live in Richmond, check out upcoming poultry workshops at The Center For Rural Culture.

4. Amount of yard: (Wow they do eat the weeds!)

I personally think chickens are happiest when they are free range (within a residential home's fence) with grass and shrubs. If your yard is what you consider to be an average residential back yard, you should have plenty of space. Just make sure that if you have a food garden that it is separate from the chickens.


5. Going away tips: If you have a garage, you can drag the coop within so that your chickens are free range yet protected while you're away for a weekend - leave plenty of fresh food, water, and a large bin of grass clippings, and they will be happy yet safe from predators. Consider your plan of action for away time.  Neighbors are helpful during longer periods away; ask avid gardeners- they often are enthusiastic and enjoy the fresh eggs and quiet contemplation in the garden as they relax and watch the chickens, well, be chickens.

6. Pasture: Chickens like a mixture of shrubs (provides shade from the summer heat, and is a good place for dust baths and to find grubs and worms) and open yard.

7. URBAN PLANNING: Why this relates to architecture: Because your home should be a part of your community, and your community should be healthy and sustainable. Any good business person can see that when households reduce waste, it helps your city budget's bottom line. 

Stack 'em against each other:
1. Homes that work (passive solar architecture + a food garden + chickens) vs. 2. Chem Lawn? No contest: biodiversity, reducing waste, enriching soil and producing food within your community is a good thing and improves the quality of life for your city.

Chickens are one more way to create community in a neighborhood - at each coop we toured, it was clear the neighbors adored them - the first coop even lets their chickens be seen from their front yard, not even trying to be discreet about it, and neighbors walk by and linger at the fence, enjoying the view.

Say yes to urban chickens, to your community sustainability! Urban chickens for everyone!!!!
: )

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2 Comments:

At 5/24/10, 11:29 AM , Blogger Copeland said...

FYI if you are in the city of Richmond:

(Got this from an attendee)

To understand how other cities have moved to meet the request for urban chicken keeping please read this "Examination of 25 Cities" and the regulations adopted.
http://urbanchickens.org/files/Ordinance%20research%20paper.pdf

The current Richmond City Code is as follows:

Sec. 10-88. Keeping and running at large of hogs, pigs and fowl.

(a) No hog or pig shall be kept on any premises or allowed to go at large within the city, provided that hogs and pigs may be kept at the Maymont Park as educational exhibitions.

(b) No person shall keep, place or maintain fowl on any parcel of real property in the city which contains less than 50,000 square feet in area.

(c) All fowl shall be kept in securely and suitably fenced areas, and no fenced area or pen for fowl shall be permitted closer than 500 feet to any house or other building used for residential purposes by anyone other than the person maintaining such fowl or such person’s immediate family.

(d) Every person maintaining any area for keeping fowl shall keep it clean, sanitary and free from refuse. All feed or other material intended for consumption by birds shall be kept in containers impenetrable by rats or other rodents, and such containers shall be equipped with tightly fitting caps or lids. The presence of rats in an area used for the keeping of fowl shall be prima facie evidence that such area is maintained in violation of this section.


Richmond City Council member contact information:
http://www.ci.richmond.va.us/CityCouncil/contacts.aspx

Please let them know we want Section 10-88 amended so that we can have fowl in the City of Richmond.

 
At 5/31/10, 5:03 PM , Blogger Pablo said...

Wow!! I love chickens! Awesome :)

 

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