New Ordinance Allows More Chickens in Backyard Fayetteville Farms

FAYETTEVILLE, AR-- The new urban agriculture ordinance was passed by the Fayetteville city council in March, and took effect on Thursday.

The measure is designed to address local food security concerns and give people better access to fresh and local food. It allows single-family homes to have up to 20 chickens or ducks on any property. Three goats and four beehives are also allowed, depending on the property size. Urban farmers can also sell home-produced agricultural products from their home.

Melissa Terry and her husband own six acres of Fayetteville farm-land. "This is our first full year on this farm so we have six chickens and some new bees. It's our goal to revive the farm that was here in a more urban context."

Melissa said, another goal is self sufficiency. For her two daughters, it's a lesson on food. "They get to take the compost out to the chickens and the chickens have gotten so used to them that when they come up with the compost bucket they talk to them and then they get to check for eggs."

Raising chickens is fun for families, but little by little urban farming is helping to increase food security in Fayetteville.

Peter Nierengarten, sustainability director for the city of Fayetteville, believes the new ordinance can help change statistics. "We're seeing really alarming numbers related to the number of people that don't have enough healthy food to eat on a daily basis. Here in Fayetteville we have very high SNAP usage rates."

Nierengarten said, "It has expanded access to be able to sell home grown and home produced products and we've expanded the number to up to twenty fowl."

For Melissa Terry and her family, more livestock means more meals. She said, "We're raising enough food to feed our family and grow a couple of rows for our friends in the community and food banks. We're also teaching our kids how to grow food."

The city hopes the new ordinance empowers others to get involved. Nierengarten said, "You really begin to see an opportunity to create not only greater access to local food but greater ability to support a local food economy. Terry added, "They can feel like they are more involved in their own food security."

To find out more about the urban farming ordinance in Fayetteville, you can click here.

Nierengarten said, the city of Fayetteville is working with the National Center for Appropriate Technology for training related to urban goat keeping. He said Feed Fayetteville and Tri Cycle Farms are also providing outreach on urban chicken keeping.

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