New Leaf New York: From Pharma to Farm


Chix and the city

Remember this guy?  Of course you do: Manny Howard chronicled his attempt to eat hyper-locally for a year — that is, food from his own Kings County backyard — and along the way he found out that chickens are smelly, your wife may come to hate your guts, and you can’t stop a freak Brooklyn tornado.  And he didn’t make it for a whole year, but I give him an A for effort.  To be fair the concept was a little silly, but he did prove a point — readers understood all the tiny, possibly unforeseen details of eating very locally.

Some Californians have got the same idea in their heads.  Sonoma once had chickens running “wild” in the town center, until the population began to grow and parents complained that their children were getting pecked.  This week, the Sonoma City Council was considering allowing once again for residents to own chickens, roosters and rabbits in their homes.

Raising rabbits and poultry are a step toward self-sufficiency and provide healthier meat and eggs, proponents contend.

“Every single person should keep chickens,” said Bob Cannard, a former city councilman who has had chickens for nearly 40 years. “If everybody kept three chickens for every person in the household, we would change the nature of this country.”

Of course, Sonoma isn’t the pastoral near-utopia it used to be; some were especially concerned with the noise that roosters might create. Today, the ordinance passed, allowing even the smallest residence to own up to 16 chickens and eight rabbits, but — sorry, Foghorn — no roosters.  Which, frankly, should be quite all right, since amateur suburban farmers don’t need roosters to get more than enough eggs for themselves and their families.  Hens will do the job just fine.

In New York, Just Food’s City Chicken Project will provide chickens to a NYC community garden of at least eight participating persons, as long as it can comfortably provide eight square feet of space for each chicken.  Raising chickens in the city will help build community, teach children to understand the connection between dinner on the plate and animals in the barnyard, and help make your garden more sustainable by naturally fighting pests and weeds and fortifying soil tilth.

Image courtesy of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

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