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. Continue reading


Apartment gardening

A lot of New Yorkers scoff that they can’t possibly garden in the city. If you barely have enough space to cook, how can you have room to grow the ingredients? Well, doubting Thomases, not only is it possible, but there are several ways to go about it, depending on how dedicated and creative you’re willing to get.

Container gardening. Do you have a window that gets direct sunlight for at least some of the day? You’re in luck. You can plant individual containers of herbs, flowers or vegetables and maintain them on a windowsill or nearby table. Careful attention and knowledge of the varieties you choose will help to ensure your containers go on producing bundles of mint, basil, cucumbers or zinnias for months. In our apartment, we have two Kentucky Colonel mint plants that just won’t stop growing, which is great for filling our self-imposed mint julep quota! Companion planting, based on the idea that certain plants can benefit one another when planted closely to one another, is a great way to maximize your output in a small space. If your landlord will allow it, you can also consider building or buying window boxes as well.

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