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5/27/11

Two Outta Three T'Ain't Bad... Richmond's Urban Chickens Saga Counts One Loss

I promise off grid zero energy prefab house kit construction updates will resume after this civic update.

My childrenz earned another Kid Scouts badge as they headed in with me to meet with another board of supervisor to discuss legalizing urban hens. What's Kid Scouts, you say? Well, we kinda made it up.

Urban hens increase a community's livability, sustainability,
and coop tours even raise money for good causes and increase tourism.
Raleigh's Tour D'Coop raised over $5,000 and 3,000 pounds of food for
their local food bank this year!

Two of the supervisors with whom I have met have given us their support. Today, a third did not, saying he doesn't "want the farm in the city." I reminded him hens have always been in Henrico and have a long urban history in the region. He then said he didn't think many people would support it.
(**Please let your RVA representatives know you support chickens!** Really, it DOES make a difference.)

It was a very good civics lesson for the children, who were on good behavior.

In the end, he dismissed our data: http://www.slideshare.net/CampusBookstore/chickunz-v6
No matter how much we presented facts (it would take ten hens to make up the poundage of the average lab, they produce less waste, less noise, and their droppings improve the soil while dogs' do not, for example), he just repeated "but we don't want the farm in the city." Amy Carol Randolph and I countered that hens were not just for the farm and that there is a long, long history of hens in urban areas, that other cities recognize this and have changed zoning accordingly (over 500 cities & towns last year!).

Amy Carroll Randolph consoled, "Well, two out of three ain't bad..."



But it's not acceptable for citizens who desire to be more sustainable, affordably, while improving their soil... Speaking of soil quality, there was an article on 13 year cicadas emerging in the paper. I noticed all the areas were more rural... Not that I want a bunch o' cicadas, but I recall my summers filled with them growing up in Richmond, and can't help but wonder if it's because these suburban lawns have been nuked so much with pesticides these recent decades that cicadas, who incubate in soil, no longer appear in more urban areas. Most homeowner lot's soil is no longer useful here.

I had a AnyoneChemicalLawnXYZ representative stop by my home this week. "Oh, no, we don't do chemicals, we grow FOOD!" Mr. Chemical agreed, "Oh, yeah, if you're growing food you don't want to be sprayed!" I wonder if my neighbors who hire lawn services know that, as most of them have a little plot o' summer tomatoes for their children. And: If he agrees you don't want it on food crops, why would you let your children run on this turf barefoot? Your pets? Why is THIS legal to spray with an organic neighbor downwind?

I have a meeting with a forth board of supervisor next week. We know the fifth does not support us.

What's interesting to me is the two who do not support urban chickens both grew up with poultry farms, and proclaim it disgusting. You have to ask yourself, "Well, were your hens kept in a hen house all pooping on each other in the dark? Because yes, that's disgusting. But if your hens were raised on pasture, just like a few back yard hens would be on grass, well, that's *not* unsanitary at all. I have no qualms about my children climbing into a pen with over 500 chickens at our dear friends pen at Ault's Family Farms!"
My childrenz, with over 500 birds. Does this look gross to you?
So Richmond: Talk "green" with Mayor Jones, Thursday, June 9, Carillon, 6-8 p.m.
Let the mayor know that for you, sustainability is not just about LEED points but includes food rights and Chickunz!


From the Sustainability Plan intro:  www.richmondgov.com/sustainabilityplan

"What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is generally defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In Richmond this means ensuring a clean and healthy environment; a competitive economic advantage; and fair access to livelihood, education, and resources for community members now and into the future."
Where is the fair access to humanely raised, healthier, affordable food? Only the more economically advantaged can afford to buy $4 eggs from healthy grocers or farmers markets. Sustainability is not just about LEED points, folks. Currently our community's needs are not met for the ability, or our future generation's ability, to have access to healthy, backyard eggs as a resource for our families.

The pictures on Frog Bottom Farm's recipe page look
much more purty but TRUST ME this is delish!



I tried to stave off my exhaustion this week with a healthy, delicious, raw kale salad from our friends at Frog Bottom Farm, the best raw kale recipes ever. As usual, I didn't follow directions and kinda combined all of 'em, probably. Dollops o' tahini, avocados, rice wine instead of apple cider, toasted sesame seeds instead of sunflower, no dates, more soy, garlic, lemon, kale, carrots from Mrs. E, all thrown into a box and shaken, SHAKEN up. Yum! (Note: the kale tamps down overnight and I just keep adding more kale the next day, stirring and shaking it, somehow the sauce stays strong & tangy regardless!)

P.s. If you are an architect / in urban planning, I point you to Rachel Flynn's last comments as she leaves Richmond. There's a lot to discuss.

And yes, our Prefab Home updates continue following this post!

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