Cities Re-evaluating Permitting on Food-Producing Animals in Residential Zones

Mychel Matthews reported this week at the Idaho Statesman Online that, “Folks used to ‘homestead’ — raise gardens and livestock, milk their own cows and gather eggs from their own hens — until it became easier and sometimes cheaper to purchase mass-produced foods from a store.

“As people moved from the country into the city, many left their animals and their gardening skills behind. During the 1950s, cities across the nation began to outlaw animals within their boundaries, and the concept of sustainability seemed to disappear from the collective consciousness.

“Now, some say they miss the homesteading lifestyle and want it back. Some say they should have the right to grow their own food. And some big cities are re-evaluating their stances and permitting food-producing animals in residential zones.”

The article noted that, “‘When Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the U.S., is selling little chicken coops and chicken feed, that shows (urban homesteading) is a long-lasting trend,’ said Gretchen Anderson of Eagle, a leader in the urban homesteading movement, a former Magic Valley resident and author of ‘The Backyard Chicken Fight.’ ‘It’s a paradigm shift back to where we were.'”

Matthews pointed out that, “Cassidy Robinson doesn’t waste water or time growing a lawn in his Twin Falls backyard. He grows food.

“‘I would rather grow functional landscape,’ the 33-year-old said.”

This week’s article added that, “Twin Falls’ restrictions are too narrow for Robinson’s dreams, but some cities are loosening their codes to allow some farm animals.

“Consider Chicago. Modern Farmer calls the Windy City ‘the only large urban area in the country that never explicitly outlawed the rearing of farm animals.’ Chicago is now using farming to rejuvenate 11,000 abandoned lots in its South Side, part of its Green Healthy Neighborhoods initiative.

Seattle has allowed residents to keep goats, sheep, cows and horses since 2010, which city leaders declared the Year of Urban Agriculture. One animal is allowed per 10,000 square feet.

“And Somerville, Mass., a suburb of Boston, was one of the first to embrace urban homesteading. Boston was soon to follow.”

The Idaho Statesman article indicated that, “Austin, Texas, not only allows chickens, it even pays residents a $75 rebate to attend its chicken maintenance courses and keep chicken coops in their backyards. It’s part of the city’s goal to eliminate waste.

“The city of nearly 1 million hopes to reduce waste that goes to a landfill by 90 percent, spokeswoman Memi Cardenas said. A recent city survey revealed that 45 percent of what was going into the landfill is compostable, while much of the rest is recyclable.”

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