Friday, January 2, 2009

The World According to Monsanto

The Salem Progressive Film Series folks have found another important film.

Great news for the New Year: Urban chickens are spreading!

Yet more press about the best rediscovered idea in a while---householders and urban homesteaders keeping laying hens):

Chickens given roosts in urban backyards

. . . He is among the growing number of city dwellers across the country choosing chickens as pets — raising them for eggs that proponents say taste fresher, for pest control, for fertilizer and, as the economy continues to struggle, for a cost-saving source of protein.

Enthusiasts have been pecking away at multiple local laws this year and have persuaded officials in cities such as Fort Collins, Colo., Bloomington, Ind., and Brainerd, Minn., to change the rules.

Ludlow, who began raising chickens five years ago, has become somewhat of an expert on the topic through his website,, which, he says, has grown to a community of 19,000 members around the world the past two years.

Ludlow has tapped into what he and others say is a growing trend among residents from California, New York, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and elsewhere.

Their efforts, he says, are a sign of the tough economy and harken back to the victory gardens planted by Americans in previous economic downturns and during the two world wars.

"It's like that saying, a chicken in every pot. Well, I think it should be a chicken in every backyard," Ludlow says.

Longmont, Colo., city planner Ben Ortiz says elected officials in his city of about 85,000 near Fort Collins are considering whether to let residents raise chickens. Ortiz says many residents have cited financial sustainability as a major reason. "There may be some pent-up demand for this kind of thing," he says.

New York City, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Seattle all permit urban chickens, Ortiz says. Such cities generally limit residents to five or fewer hens, with no roosters, a review of their laws shows.

. . . Chamberlain cites access to eggs produced without antibiotics, a fresher taste and a greater emphasis on locally produced food as benefits of backyard chickens. "For me, it's primarily a local foods and sustainability issue. My whole front yard is vegetables, and this is a natural extension of that," she says.

Ortiz says Longmont officials began considering the proposal after some residents noted that Fort Collins approved a similar law in September. "What precipitated this is the sustainability movement. That seems to be the rationale that a lot of these people are employing," Ortiz says.

Ludlow says the chickens eat leftover food and provide a daily lesson for children about where their food comes from.

Chamberlain says she took her request to city hall, drawing inspiration from friends in Portland, Ore., and websites such as Ludlow's and the Albuquerque-based Both sites discuss everything from the best types of food to how to answer neighbors' concerns.