Tonawanda News

May 3, 2012

Give chicken plan free range


The Tonawanda News

— The North Tonawanda Common Council should be commended for finding the right answer to the chicken question — and no, we’re not talking about why it crossed the road.

A resident approached city leaders several months ago seeking to host chickens on their property. To our south in Buffalo, city leaders there grappled with the question and found a reasonable approach. NT largely modeled its own policy after the Buffalo one and we’re glad they didn’t reinvent the wheel.

The issue is interesting not only for the rather quirky subject matter, but because urban sustainability is a growing field (no pun intended) that sees city-dwellers seeking to adopt many of the rural practices generally reserved for people living in farm country.

Born originally out of the organic food movement, urban farming and sustainable food sourcing seeks to offer cheap, healthful food alternatives to people living in places where growing crops and raising animals was unthinkable. Why shouldn’t someone with a large enough backyard be able to keep a few chickens, provided his neighbors aren’t opposed?

In approaching this issue with an open mind, city leaders have crafted a policy that encourages residents to eat healthier and save money. There are appropriate safe-guards in place so that neighbors aren’t disturbed. The fact that the new urban farming law requires neighbors’ approval is smart for two reasons: First, it ensures otherwise happy relationships between neighbors aren’t disturbed due to a few chickens in the yard. Second, one could easily envision neighbors sharing the cost of tending to the chickens and, in turn, sharing the eggs the hens produce. At the risk of overselling it, programs like these can legitimately strengthen the fabric of a neighborhood and bring people together.

In an age where urban dwellers are becoming more and more detached from our food sources — and each other — there seems something comforting, even enjoyable, about the idea of growing or raising what you eat and sharing it with friends and neighbors.

Kudos to City Hall for recognizing this and crafting a policy that allows it to happen.