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Dreaming of Urban Agriculture

Do you live in a city and want to raise chickens, ducks or turkeys? In most US cities, there are livestock ordinances that dictate whether or not you are allowed to raise poultry. You can do a quick internet search for your city’s animal ordinance. That ordinance will let you know if you can have birds and what you need to do to keep them; this can include permits, cooperative specifications, whether or not certain birds are allowed (roosters), and the consequences of not following the ordinance.

My experience with urban farming has been very pleasant, even in winter when we have to walk in sub-zero temperatures, wind, sleet and snow. Every morning, before I prepare to let the chickens and ducks out of their coops, I look out the kitchen window and see them eagerly awaiting my presence. Our pet chickens, ducks, muskrats, quail and turkeys bring me joy. They each have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. The best are the eggs. They are beautiful green, blue and cream colored shells with deep orange yolks. I find that the eggs are better quality and taste like real eggs compared to the eggs you buy at the grocery store. Chickens and ducks do not lay much or not at all during the winter. In my experience, you will most likely have to buy eggs in the winter.

Urban farming also involves growing your own food. Whether you want a strawberry orchard or grow your own vegetables. The possibilities are endless! But beware! If you use your own compost for the soil in your garden beds, be prepared for unplanned plants to grow in your well-planted beds. The best practice for finding out what can grow in your area is to research where your city is located on the Plant Hardiness Zones Map. This tool will help you know which plants will do well in your area. If you really want to get into Urban Farming, do a soil test. You can buy them at Lowe’s or Amazon. These will tell you the composition of your soil and help you level the playing field, so to speak, when it comes to what nutrients are needed for your crops to thrive.

If you plan to sell your crops at a local farmers market, I would recommend checking out your state Cooperative Extension office and seeing if they have a class you can take on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and taking it. It will be very informative on the proper way to harvest crops, as well as what can and cannot be done to sell. I would also look into what classes they might offer, there are also grants to offer farming classes for free. I highly recommend looking at your state Cooperative Extension office for general classes. Knowledge is power.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my perspective and personal experiences on urban farming. If you have any questions and would like to discuss starting your own urban farm, feel free to email me and I can provide you with helpful advice. I am by no means an expert!

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ Retrieved February 17, 2016.

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