Cities Hold Destiny Over Urban Food

Touch the Soil News #412

In many ways, city governments hold the keys to urban agriculture and even backyard gardens. Cities determine water allocation, what you can do with your lawn, zoning restrictions and what kind of farm animals you can have.

Efforts by local citizens to change or implement city ordinances in favor or urban farming have become a mainstream trend in the United States. One of the most successful movements has been for ordinances allowing chickens.

The trend towards integrating urban farming into U.S. cities is unmistakable and pushing the borders of what is allowed. Recently, the Detroit Planning Commission has undertaken a review of code amendments as relates to small animals for agricultural purposes. Up for allowance increases are chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits and honeybees. The change in codes would apply to the property of any residence, educational institution, restaurant or agricultural facility the meets spatial guidelines. Slaughter on-site and the sale of meat would not be allowed.

The most significant aspect of the Detroit upgrade of urban farming codes is that a person could buy a property in a residential neighborhood and turn the whole lot into a farm.

The official seal of the city of Detroit. The two Latin mottos mean: 1) We hope for better things. 2) It will rise from the ashes. Hopefully Detroit will become the leader in urban agriculture that it wishes.

Not to be overlooked is that the City of Detroit did not just wake up one morning and decide to take material steps to integrate agriculture into the city. It has been the effort, care and research of many citizens working with the city government.

If the livestock codes are upgraded, as is hoped, a Detroit household will be able to keep a maximum of eight chickens and four goats. For comparison, in Denver – a city viewed as favorable to urban farmers – residents can get a license for up to 8 chickens, but only two goats.

Following is an insightful video by urban farming expert Curtis Stone on the bylaws and ordinances issue:

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