Urban Farmers for Food Freedom has been super excited to bring miniature goats and baby chicks out to multiple elementary and middle schools in the Visalia Unified School District to teach students More »
Urban Farmers for Food Freedom has been super excited to bring miniature goats and baby chicks out to multiple elementary and middle schools in the Visalia Unified School District to teach students about Urban Farming!
In addition to teaching about chickens and goats and letting the kids get hands on experience brushing, petting and handling these sweet animals, we’ve been teaching students all about local community sustainability, and getting our hands dirty making pollinator friendly seed bombs to throw / plant around the school!
Check out a sample of what we’re teaching in Tulare County public schools!
Definition of Urban Farming
Urban agriculture can be defined shortly as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities. You don’t have to own a lot of land to be an urban farmer. An individual, a couple of friends, a family, a nonprofit group, a school classroom, or a neighborhood group can start and run an urban farm.
Urban farming has become a means to increase access to locally grown food and a way of reintroducing the public to the many aspects of food that we have lost as a culture. The importance of urban farming is increasingly being recognized by international organizations like the United Nation Habitat and the World Food and Agriculture Organization.
Examples of Urban Farming
Urban farming can involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry, urban beekeeping, horticulture and much more. Some of the more common food production and sustainable practices you’ll find on a household urban farm is:
Raising miniature dairy goats
Vegetable, Fruit and Herb Gardens
Cultivating pollinator friendly plants
Composting and recycling
Rain water collecting and water conservation practices
Student art for Urban Farmers from Woodlake Middle School Students!
Why Urban Farming is Important
As more people begin to understand our food system, many are seeking to have more input into how food is grown, how it is treated after being harvested and how it moves from one place along the food route to another. People have begun to understand how far food travels, and that they, as the consumer, have had no say in what is grown or how it is grown. Urban farming helps to change that, and give individuals the freedom to produce their own food if they choose to do so.
Ultimately, urban farming is beneficial for families, for the community and for the environment.
How Urban Farming Helps Families
The costs of supplying and distributing food to urban areas based on rural production and imports continue to increase every year. Urban farming is a great way to help to alleviate poverty and food insecurity with lower income families and allows families control over what they eat and how it is grown. Growing your own food saves households money, provides individuals access to healthy food, and allows families to be self-sufficient and self-reliant.
How Urban Farming Helps Communities
A community that is aware of and engaged in urban farming, is a community that is focused on conservation, stewardship and teamwork. The more that families and communities engage in urban farming, the greater the “greening and cleaning” effect on the city, with positive impacts on the micro-climate (shade, temperature, sequestration of CO2). Knowing where your food comes from, and respecting, enhancing and protecting your environment creates a priceless and strong sense of community.
How Urban Farming Helps the Environment
In addition to the greening of the city, urban farming contributes to the productive reuse of urban wastes and is a powerful tool in the urban ecosystem. Growing cities produce more and more wastewater and organic wastes. Urban farming helps to solve such problems by turning urban wastes into a productive resources (like organic waste as compost and urban wastewater as irrigation). Urban farming also actively replenishes the soil, cleans the air and provides essential wildlife – especially birds, bees and butterflies – a healthy sanctuary in the urban setting.
Learning how to make pollinator friendly seed bombs at Liberty Elementary School in Tulare, CA
Why Pollinators Are Important
Imagine living in a world without flowers or fruit or even coffee or chocolate for that matter. Thanks to the wonderful work of pollinators like bees and butterflies, much of the food we eat and flowers and plants we enjoy are possible. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds.
Worldwide, there is an alarming decline in pollinator populations. Excessive use of pesticides and an ever-expanding conversion of landscapes to human use for urban dwellings are the biggest culprits.
It is estimated that more than 1,300 types of plants are grown around the world for food, beverages, medicines, condiments, spices and even fabric. Of these, about 75% are pollinated by animals. More than one of every three bites of food we eat or beverages we drink are directly because of pollinators.
Although we live in an area that isn’t as populated as Los Angeles or New York, bees right here in the Central Valley and Tulare County are experiencing colony collapse, where the entire hive just dies off. You can make a positive difference in your home environment and make urban landscapes friendly to pollinators by planting herbs and flowers that provide lots of pollen and nectar to bees. Through urban farming, it is possible to make your city a sanctuary for bees and butterflies instead of a death sentence!
One of the ways we can help protect pollinators is by making and scattering seed bombs in open spaces of land – beside roads, highways, empty fields, and in our front yards or flower beds.
Students with three baby Nigerian Dwarf goats at Liberty Elementary in Tulare, CA
Why Miniature Goats for Urban Farming
Miniature goats, which include Nigerian Dwarfs and African Pygmies, are popular amongst urban farmers because they’re a manageable size, relatively inexpensive to feed and produce a lot of milk for their small size. A regularly milked doe lactates for 10 months to two years after giving birth, and produces a quart of milk a day. Two mini goats can provide a family with 3 ½ gallons of milk per week. Aside from drinking the milk, you can make goat cheese, butter, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, kefir and many other dairy products, including infant formula.
Other reasons for keeping goats on an urban farm include weed and brush control (goats will eat poisonous plants and harmful weeds like poison oak, stinging nettle, and thistles) and fertilizer (their manure is dry, fairly odorless, and nitrogen-rich and can be used immediately on crops or in the soil). Goat meat is also delicious and healthy.
Goats are ruminants, which means they have a four chambered stomach system. The straw, grains, grasses and plants that they eat are thoroughly digested, fermented in the stomach, and broken down to create the ultimate plant food and soil enhancer. Goat manure helps to build up the organic matter content in the soil and adds nutrients, increases microbial activity, and improves drainage in heavy soils and moisture retention in sandy soils.
Students handling baby chicks at Liberty Middle School in Tulare, CA
Why Chickens for Urban Farming
Most chicken-owners have the same reason for starting up their flocks: eggs! By getting eggs from your own chickens, you avoid supporting industrial farms that produce the majority of eggs sold in the US. Egg-producing hens on factory farms are often kept in such close, inhumane quarters that they cannot stretch their legs or wings, walk around, or participate in normal social behaviors.
Also, studies have demonstrated that pasture-raised eggs, from chickens given space to peck for food, are more nutritious than industry-sourced eggs, with pasture-raised eggs containing two to three times more omega-3 fatty acids and one-third the cholesterol of factory-farmed eggs. Those healthier eggs cost far less than the eggs found in the grocery stores!
Chickens also serve as great composters for your kitchen scraps. There isn’t much you can’t feed a chicken! They’re omnivores and will eat just about anything that comes out of the kitchen, including meats.
You can then add the chicken’s waste to your compost pile and use it on your garden as a fertilizer. In addition, chickens will happily pluck up any unwanted insects and pests in your yard.
Students with two African Pygmy goats at Woodlake Middle School!
We look forward to visiting more classrooms in the month of October! (If you are interested in a classroom visit, please contact Gingi Freeman at email@example.com)
Urban Farmers for Food Freedom is dedicated to promoting, protecting and supporting Food Freedom, Self Sufficiency, and the Urban Farming movement in the Central Valley of California and surrounding areas.
Whether you are an urban farmer yourself or simply an advocate for the personal liberties our nation was founded on, we encourage you to join Urban Farmers for Food Freedom as we strive to protect personal property rights, equip and educate our communities, and empower citizens to change laws in favor of urban farming.
Becoming a Member
Membership is open to families and individuals in support of or engaged in urban farming, as well as affiliate communities and businesses. To become a member, simply make a donation in the denomination below, and once processed, we will add you to our member database! (Term of Membership – 1 year).
Food Freedom Supporter – $49
Food Freedom Partner – $99
Food Freedom Sponsor – $250
Food Freedom Fighter – $500
Food Freedom Guardian – $1000
I’m Pro Goat Bumper Sticker.
Urban Farmers for Food Freedom T-Shirt (for Sponsors, Fighters and Guardians.)
Monthly informational email newsletters.
Invitation to exclusive Urban Farmers for Food Freedom events.
Volunteer opportunities in the community.
Attendance at members only meetings in person and via Skype.
How long do chickens live?
Roughly 8 to 10 years, although some well-loved pet chickens have been known to push 15 years!
How big do chickens get?
It really depends on the breed, but an average mature hen can weigh up to 9 to 11 pounds and usually grows 16 to 20 inches tall.
What do chickens eat?
Chickens primarily eat vegetables, fruits, flowers and grass. They also eat grains and seeds, and scratch the ground to find bugs, spiders and insects to eat.
How much space does a chicken need?
The general rule of thumb to help people get started is 4 square feet per chicken in the coop, along with 10 square feet per chicken in the run.
What kind of housing do chickens need?
Hens need protection from weather extremes and predators, especially at night. Wooden enclosures or metal A-frame coops – easily purchased at any feed supply store – work wonderfully.
Can a chicken be a pet?
Some people find it hard to believe until they’ve seen it, but chickens can be just as loyal as dogs as pets! They will sit in your lap, come when they hear their name, and even cuddle with you for hours straight.
What are the benefits of owning a chicken?
Chickens are a great source of fresh eggs. Chicken manure can also be added to compost piles or used as a fertilizer when tilled into the soil. Chickens offer great organic pest control, and they also just make really great pets!
Are there any special considerations when owning a chicken?
Miniature goats are very relaxed, low maintenance animals. Like any pet, they require commitment and attention from their owners for ultimate health, happiness and cleanliness.
The Fresno Bee recently published (yet another) opinion article from serial disgruntled opinion writer Jerrold Jensen. I normally just shrug these things off, but this one was just so chock full of falsehoods that I decided to issue a point by point rebuttal. Since Mr. Jensen has clearly made it an unhealthy hobby of his to stalk me and my family personally, I’ve no doubt he will find and read this article. My invitation at the end of this article is a sincere. 😉
Let’s get started shall we?
“Can backyard farmers and traditional city dwellers coexist in Visalia?”
Yes. Why couldn’t they? If dog and cat owners and city dwellers can coexist, why can’t backyard farmers? Don’t be a judgmental classist, and you’ll be fine!
“We may have to if activists are successful with a petition drive that could eventually legalize possession of chickens and goats in our residential areas.”
Yup. You may just have to get over the heartache of not being able to control your neighbor’s lives, private property and pets. Tragic, I know.
“As The Fresno Bee has reported, there is no active opposition.”
Unless, of course, you count the handful disgruntled serial “opinion” article writers that like to obsessively attack a mother trying to provide for her children.
“Many residents simply dismiss the issue as absurd.”
Many more residents (we’re talking in the thousands) find it absurd that anyone would take offence to the responsible ownership of animals smaller, quieter and cleaner than your average dog. The majority of citizens take personal property rights, government overreach and control, and food freedom quite seriously.
“But there is obviously a militant group”
Militant? Really? Buddy, if you find a bunch of housewives toting toddlers on their hips and walking mini goats on leashes “militant” you really need to get a grasp on global events. Forget ISIS, forget the Iranian nuclear deals, forget the drug cartels… pro-goat advocates are SCARY!
“that wants to raise agricultural animals in their backyards, regardless of size.”
This is an outright lie. Our initiative is only for miniature goats and chickens, and outlines square footage requirement for each.
“What Valley city will be next on their target list?”
We’re a Political Action Committee for Tulare County, so logic would dictate there’s only one “valley” on our list sir.
“This campaign appears to be local but the treasurer and bank account are in Aptos, which is near Santa Cruz, and it is aggressively raising campaign funds nationwide.”
Our bank account is with a popular chain that is accessible in most cities, Visalia included. Being a stay at home mother, assisted by volunteers who are primarily stay at home mothers, I accepted the help of a political expert in Santa Cruz who helped walk us through the labyrinth of laws and regulations our state has in place for putting together a PAC and publishing a ballot initiative. If Mr. Jensen is so naïve as to think that every political effort in Visalia is exclusive to Visalians and doesn’t enlist the aid of others in surrounding communities.. well, bless his little heart!
“The mailing address is 20 miles away in Hanford, not Visalia.”
Yes. We are grassroots, and as such, we cannot afford an office, or a P.O. box. My father, who has a PMB in Hanford, has been kind enough to let me use his to spare us the expense of purchasing our own. Is this also against the “rules” Mr. Jensen? (Where, exactly, can one find these dogmatic rules of yours, btw?? Just curious…)
“The couple who started the campaign only lived here for about six months”
Wrong again. I was born and raised in the Central Valley and have lived in Visalia for a number of years. Prior to this whole goat business we have been in Visalia for closer to two years. Are you just making this information up as you go along, or have you just failed miserably in your creepy attempts at stalking my family??
“before they set out to nullify our existing municipal codes and they may only be short-term residents if the husband receives new orders.”
My husband just got his orders… another 4+ years in Lemoore, with the option to stay much longer. Why does this matter? Are you as anti-military as you are anti-food freedom and anti-property rights? Does a military family not have community rights and recourse? Did my husband really lose his social standing in your eyes when he dedicated his life to serving our country and your rights?
“This became a political issue when a family based in Lemoore chose to live 40 miles away in the heart of Visalia instead of a rural area that would welcome barnyard animals.”
Yes, we clearly love Visalia to go out of our way to live here. Moving to Visalia was an intentional choice, and one we’d make again. But perhaps you are unfamiliar with the paygrade of a young military family with two small children..? If you think buying land in this agricultural breadbasket is something one can do flippantly, I think you need to check your privilege.
“A few months later, their neighbors complained about odor coming from the backyard.”
A few month later from what?? We had our goats for well over half a year at that point. Further, the neighborhood busybody who reported us doesn’t even live on our street!
“City inspectors discovered small goats that needed to be removed because they violated both the nuisance code plus another code prohibiting agricultural animals on residential lots.”
More blanant lies. City inspectors simply sent me a letter stating the goats had to go. The only time they “discovered” anything was when I personally invited them to come out and have a look at my pets and my backyard. They found that my goats violated NO nuisance codes, noise ordinances, health ordinances or trespass codes. The ONLY “violation” was that my tiny pets had hooves. When asked point blank, “Would this be a problem if my animals were dogs?” I was told, “No, this is clean and does not smell at all.”
“According to The Bee, the wife said her goats replaced the breast milk she could not produce.”
Yeah, that’s right. But you clearly have a problem with a disabled mother trying to provide for her children in her own backyard with harmless pets, don’t you?
“These new residents then pulled together a group of like-minded supporters and aggressively demanded the Visalia City Council change the municipal code banning possession of agricultural animals in residential areas.”
There he goes with those “new residents” rubbish again. According to Jensen, I suppose a tax paying, home owning resident has no rights until they have put in enough years of residency to reach a ripe old age of having nothing better to do than right defaming and libelous “opinion” articles to local papers all day.
“After being rejected, they began a petition drive to put the issue on a citywide ballot.”
Technically we weren’t rejected.. we were just ignored. Clearly our representatives aren’t doing their jobs, so yes, we began the petitioning process, (a First Amendment right, btw).
“If successful, it will allow four small goats, six chickens, and four cats and dogs in every backyard. No roosters would be permitted, and male goats must be neutered.”
In every back yard? Sir, if you think “every back yard” WANTS mini goats and chickens… what is your beef? Is everyone wanting goats now?? Make up your mind!
“There are no setback requirements, so pens, if any, could be closer to a neighbor’s house than their own.”
Do you advocate for setback requirements for dogs? Or are you just prejudicd against these animals? Just curious…
“The special election would cost Visalia taxpayers about $120,000.”
Yeah. So if enough residents in Visalia sign the petition to put it on the ballot, perhaps our elected officials should do their jobs (actually representing the public) instead of costing taxpayers needless money, huh? This petition we’re circulating will require as many signatures as the number of people who voted our mayor into office. It will ONLY make the ballot if the citizens are truly pro-chicken and goat. So there is a real easy fix for this for our elected officials – listen to the constituency. Do your job.
“The co-leaders of the petition effort recently had a lengthy interview on a national radio broadcast.”
The co-leaders? Huh?? I am the only one who has had any “lengthy interviews on national radio broadcast”. Are you confused again, Mr. Jensen?
“It offered a unique insight into the mindset of people who oppose childhood vaccinations and genetically modified foods, favor home schooling and insist that agricultural animals be permitted in backyard urban gardens.”
People have opinions differing from your own?! People want to choose what their kids eat.. and home school… and make their own decisions?! Egads! (What a unique insight into the mind of Mr. Jensen, who believes he knows best what you should or shouldn’t feed your kids / own in your home / have on your private property.)
“Sympathetic listeners across the country were motivated to contribute over $8,000 when the campaign leader stated there weren’t any pre-existing ordinances when the city forced removal of her goats. Truth, it seems, is always the first casualty in war and politics.”
This is rich coming from a man who lies about a disabled mom and military family as a personal hobby. The only ordinance my goats broke was in BEING goats. They broke no other pre-existing ordinances, and this has been clearly explained to all partied from the beginning. Since Mr. Jensen seems to be confused as to who actually conducted the interviews (it was myself, not my co-leaders), he is clearly confused as to details and facts – if not outright lying for a sensational opinion article. (The highlight of his life it seems.)
“The arguments against backyard agricultural animals are pretty simple. Farmers describe goats as poop machines that stink and draw flies and are as loud as a car alarm without an off switch.”
Actually, the only person who described them as such was Mr. Jensen, in his opinion article to the Visalia Times Delta. Not only are those statements NOT words from miniature goat owners, they are blatantly false. Poop machines? As opposed to dogs and cats and babies that have no buttholes, I assume? Stink and draw flies? Outright falsehood, they smell less and attract less flies than dogs and cats. Loud as a car alarm? On a scientifically measurable decibel level, that statement is overwhelming false. Mini goats are far quieter than most dogs, and unlike dogs, they sleep at night. Mr. Jensen… stoooop lyyyyying alreeeeady!
“Chickens pose a different risk. On July 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory warning of widespread outbreaks of salmonella infections traced to backyard chicken flocks.”
Absolutely false, again! The advisory warning was against INDUSTRIAL flocks, not backyard flocks. The CDC has actually gone on record as stating that backyard flocks are being spared the outbreaks. More intentional lies from this bully of a “writer”.
“Children under age 5, adults over 65 and people with weakened immune systems were specifically warned to avoid contact. Spilled chicken feed also draws infestations of rats and mice that, like flies and bad odors, have little respect for fences.”
Children under age 5 and adults over 65 are also advised to avoid all animals with risk of zoonotic diseases.. animals like dogs and cats! And, hey, spilled dog and cat food also draws infestations. I’ll be waiting for your anti-all animals articles Mr. Jensen.. since, ya know, consistency.
“We know goats already caused one neighborhood odor problem and probably destroyed the potential resale value of any neighboring home until they were removed.”
Again, FALSE and LIBELOUS. My goats caused no odor problems, and every single neighbor who shares a fence with me loved my goats, and even wrote to the city / attended the City Hall meetings to say as much. Ironically enough, one neighbor of mine is actively selling their home.. and is very supportive of our initiative. Stop lying Mr. Jensen, especially about a young mother. It’s SO unbecoming.
“The couple who began this movement in Visalia are apparently not registered to vote in our county – at least not by the name listed on their original petition.”
We’re both registered to vote, despite your smear tactics as trying to portray us as such. Your stalking skills really suck. (Also, stalking is super creepy.)
“By collecting signatures from college students and renters who are not homeowners, they may ultimately undermine the property values and existing rights of local residents who have lived for decades under municipal ordinances that preserve neighborhood tranquility.”
We’re getting signatures from everyone in Visalia, and are not targeting any one demographic as this is an issue that has no political, economic or religious bounds. But it’s nice to know that you think all pro-goat and chicken proponents are “lowly renters” and that college students have no valid opinions or rights. That’s not insulting or classist or anything.
“These activists obviously have little concern for the impact of backyard farm animals on people who do not share their philosophy. Which Valley city will be next on their agenda?”
You obviously have little concern for the political process, since all this initiative does is put the vote to the people. Does people having the right to vote on this issue bother you so deeply that you’d resort to lying about and attacking a young family trying to provide for their children? Why? Are you afraid that, if put to a vote, the majority might actually WANT their personal property rights restored? And if that’s the case, why does this upset you so very much? Talk to me Jensen. In fact, I would LOVE to have you talk to me, instead of hurling lies and verbal abuse at me from a newspaper column. Nest time, be a man and talk to me face to face if you have a problem. I insist.
“Chickens are smelly!”
Chickens don’t smell bad any more than other pets do. A properly clean chicken coop has no objectionable odors. While it’s certainly true that if your chicken coop is seldom or never cleaned, it will begin to smell, the same is true of a cat box that is never cleaned, or a dog kennel that is never cleaned. There are laws against animal cruelty, animal neglect, animal abuse, and so on that apply to all pets. The bottom line is that responsible people give their pets proper care and provide them with a clean environment.
“Chickens are loud!”
The truth is that a flock of laying hens is actually quiet, far more quiet than dogs are. A hen will cackle or squawk when she lays an egg, but that occurs once a day—or less, depending on the breed and age of the hen, as well as the season.
The noise level for the squawk after egg laying is up to 70 decibels at its very loudest, (slightly above the volume of a flushed toilet). Contrast lawn mowers and barking dogs, which register at around 100 decibels – much louder than a few hens. Roosters can be loud, (about as loud as a barking dog) but they are not allowed in our initiative for this very reason. Roosters are not required for egg production.
“Chickens poop a lot and their poop carries disease!”
Very little solid waste is produced by chickens, and what is produced can be safely composted to make great fertilizer.
By way of comparison, an average dog will produce around a pound of poop in a day, whereas a flock of four hens will only produce less than half that, about 1.5 ounces of waste per hen. Four chickens produce less waste than a medium house cat, too. Plus, composted chicken manure can eventually be used for your garden (another reason why people who have hobbies like gardening are often interested in keeping chickens, and vice versa).
Chicken feces is far safer and disease free than the feces of carnivorous dogs and cats. Normally you don’t compost dog or cat poo, since manure is more nutritious for plants if it has been produced by animals that get most of their nutrition from plants (like miniature goats!).
“Legalizing chickens will negatively affect property values”
This is simply not true. Take a few moments to read some old news stories about the legalization of backyard chickens, and you’ll notice that no actual evidence indicating that property values drop due to backyard chickens is EVER cited. Instead, the media will report that opponents simply have a “fear” of reduced property values. It seems to me that reporters should follow that claim up with actual data… but there is none to be had. So this argument is like a bogeyman: it’s not real, but is frequently employed to frighten people into a position of compliance and fear. On the contrary there are articles from realtor magazines that state that the right to keep a small flock of chickens could actually attract people to buy.
Remember, neighbors who want to keep chickens are just that: your neighbors. They care about the value of their homes and the quality of life in their community just as much as opponents of backyard chickens do – maybe more. People who keep backyard chickens are often involved in many other hobbies that add value to your neighborhood, including flower or vegetable gardening, baking, growing fruit trees or berry bushes and so on. Think about it. This is exactly the sort of thing that can enhance community feeling and friendship in your neighborhood.
That’s why some of the most expensive and exclusive communities in the country allow small flocks of laying chickens. For example, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago and Denver – cities with some of the highest property values in the country – allow hens. If keeping chickens negatively affected the property values of the communities that permitted them, surely the communities would be taking steps to repeal them based on this mounting evidence, right? This is not happening. Instead, in some areas with high property values, the regulations are actually becoming more permissive with regard to backyard chickens, presumably because these places have found that the quality of life has improved. For example, in 2010, Seattle went from allowing families 3 hens to allowing 8 hens, a much more reasonable number if your family eats lots of eggs, especially if you don’t want to be limited to getting only the breeds with the highest egg production.
The “property value” argument is typically based on emotions and other evidence-less prejudices. There is zero evidence that legalizing pet chickens has affected property values.
“People who want to keep chickens should just move to the country!”
This is probably the most ridiculous “argument” of all, if it can even be termed an argument. In the United States, no matter where you live, you have basic rights that allow you to enjoy your own property. But that means your neighbors have the same rights to enjoy their property, as disappointing as some may find that to be. If you are unduly bothered by your neighbors when their activities don’t affect property values, produce foul odors, loud noise, excess waste or present other actual problems – then YOU are the one who’ll need to consider moving out of town and into the country.
Some people would be happier with a buffer zone around them so that it will be easier for them to mind their own business and be less invasive of the privacy of others who live nearby. If you are that type of person, then just purchase a reasonable amount of acreage and put your house in the middle, so interaction with your neighbors will be minimal. Out in the country with plenty of space around you, you’ll be happier and less stressed out by what any of your neighbors might be doing on their own property.
The Freeman families goat, Idee, who was pregnant at the time that Visalia threatened the family with $1000 a day fines, has just had her kids last week!
Here are some photos of the kids – two boys and girl! Meet Rorschach, Pan and Faunus!
*The following was published on a local Visalia newspaper* An opinion piece was published in the Visalia Times-Delta on July 22, cautioning people to not sign a petition that would put the legalization of miniature goats and chickens in the city of Visalia to the voters.
I will say, it raised some interesting points for Visalians to consider. While delivering doom and gloom about diseases and noise and plummeting property values and a plague of rats and so on, the author does not cite any data or references to the dozens upon dozens of mega-cities that currently allow miniature goats and chickens within their city limits. He does not do so, because the fact of the matter is, the problems he cites just do not exist.
There is no shortage of urban farming friendly cities out there, so why the conjecture of what “could” or “might” happen when you could get a real grasp on what a city with goats and chickens would look like by actually looking at those cities?
San Diego, Portland, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Long Beach, Pasadena, etc. etc. etc., all allow goats and chickens. Before I ever addressed the City Council regarding legalizing these small, friendly, useful pets, I personally called every single city listed above (and then some) to get their take on these pets. And do you know what I found? Not a single ill report. No disease outbreaks. No “hide your children and hide your wives, because there are feral goats and chickens terrorizing the streets.”
Below are two examples of statements issued to Visalia, and I have many more on my website (www.improgoat.com) for those interested in actual facts.
San Francisco (Population 837,000) – Capt. Denise BonGiovani with San Francisco Animal Care and Control who has starred on the reality television series “Animal Cops: San Francisco” on Animal Planet states: “I know we have a lot of miniature goats in our city, but we haven’t had a single issue with them. No sound or smell or trespass or health complaints. I personally haven’t even seen a miniature goat in our city, not once, because they just haven’t caused any problems.”
Seattle (pop. 652,000) – Sandee Hansen, administration specialist and public disclosure officer for Seattle Animal Control, states, “I have worked for Seattle Animal Control for over 15 years and have never once, in a city of over half a million residents, received a noise or trespass complaint for miniature goats — both prior to and after their becoming legalized in the city. We’ve had no problem with minis, there is no reason for them to not be acceptable city pets.”
I’d personally love to see a comparison of the health hazards; property damage rates; violent attacks; noise complaints of goats and chickens to cats and dogs.
Miniature goats and chickens are physically incapable of reaching a decibel on par with a large breed dog’s bark. I also find it personally amusing that while the author condescendingly tries to find a comparable example of how “annoying” a goat is, the only comparison he makes is how they sound like women. Nice.
And the bird flu epidemic? That is a point that ultimately favors backyard flocks. The epidemic is a direct result of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in industrial chicken farming — the very conditions backyard farmers seek to avoid. As reported by the New York Times, USA Today and the Associated Press (among many others) — the bird flu is not affecting backyard flocks, even as egg prices soar from the mismanagement of inhumane commercial chicken farms.
Speaking of diseases, you are actually far more likely to contract a disease from a neighborhood dog or cat than you are from a city goat or chicken. Chickens and goats are not prime carriers of rabies or other common zoonotic diseases (diseases which are transmissible to humans or other animals). According to the CDC, the most common zoonotic disease in the United States, with 750 cases a year, is Toxocariasis, which is commonly contracted by contact with infected cats and dogs. Taxocariasis is nonexistent in goats and exceedingly rare in chickens.
The author then goes on to point out how the goat and chicken petition “can affect your home value.” I agree. So does the most recent July/August 2015 issue of Realtor Magazine. The featured article, written for and aimed at realtors, spent multiple pages pointing out to housing professionals that urban farming is sweeping the nation and that homes suitable to backyard farming are increasing the value of properties in residential settings. Saturated with colorful images of raised garden beds, chicken runs and — yes, even miniature goats — the article stresses that if you list a house as friendly to urban farming, it will “sell faster and drive the value of the property up.”
Lastly, the author accuses Urban Farmers for Food Freedom of “holding local taxpayers hostage” regarding the cost of a special election. For those unaware, this ballot initiative has been drafted because the city’s elected officials are refusing to represent the people they are sworn to serve. As the Freedom of Information Act revealed, our elected officials are not interested in listening to or responding to the citizens of Visalia. A ballot initiative is, at its core, a means for a misrepresented public to have recourse despite government corruption.
From day one, we have only ever tried to work with the city. And the fact is, while we are gathering signatures, the city still has the ability to do the right thing and respond to the overwhelming majority that wants a restoration of God-given property rights, and spare the taxpayers this needless expense.
While people like this opinion piece author may be content to purchase all of his food from stores, those who opt to pursue greater food independence (whether for financial, health, environmental, or food safety and security reasons) should be allowed to do so. Miniature goats and chickens harm no one. They are better neighbors than most “conventional” pets. Just ask the cities that have legalized them.
Food freedom is a basic human right. In this era of overbearing government control and invasive meddling, I encourage you to take a stand for food freedom, and when that petition comes your way, vote pro-goat.
Urban Farmers for Food Freedom Addresses the Visalia Unified School District and Tulare County Board of Education
Over the past few months, dozens of citizens of Visalia have come together to form the organization, Urban Farmers for Food Freedom. We formed this committee in an effort to protect essential human rights and liberties, and to advocate for and educate the community concerning food freedom and urban food production topics.
Last week Urban Farmers for Food Freedom filed a ballot initiative with the City Clerk – the Family Food Freedom Act Initiative – which, when voted on by the People, will legalize milk producing miniature goats and egg laying chickens within the City of Visalia. In the following days after filing, we also addressed the Visalia Unified School District and Tulare County Board of Education.
In response to the economic and social climates, there is a nationwide movement to legalize food producing animals such as chickens and miniature goats in residential areas of major cities.
We have been following some of the proven and successful methods of major cities that have legalized these animals and have found that with the legalization of urban agriculture, there has been an increase in educational outreach and involvement with school districts in the basic question, “Where does my food come from?”
Major cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, New York and Portland have all legalized miniature goats and chickens within city limits and there has been a significant increase in educational efforts to teach kids basic skills and principals and offer first hand experiences with small food producing animals.
We know the value of having responsibly owned food producing animals in our backyards. We see our children learning – not through agricultural tourism, but as a day to day experience – where food comes from. Urban agriculture allow children to learn life lessons from responsibility to compassion for animals to basic food production.
Childhood in only enriched by these experiences!
Legalizing food producing animals that abide by all noise, trespass and health ordinances – usually more faithfully than the traditional dog and cat – is a great victory for families and especially for small children.
But until we win this victory for food freedom, property rights and family rights here in Visalia, Urban Farmers for Food Freedom would love to donate our time, energy and efforts to the Visalia Unified School District and Tulare Board of Education, in the form of classroom visits, workshops and educational lectures.
We can bring baby miniature goats to the classroom – these little guys weigh 2 pounds at birth and max out averaging at 35 pounds. We can discuss the digestive processes of ruminants, the history of goats (one of mankinds first domesticated animals) and even let kids try their hand at milking!
Regarding chickens, we can donate eggs and equipment to host “springtime egg hatching in the classroom” and go over the reproductive and gestational developments of baby chicks. The options and opportunities are endless and we are certainly open to suggestions.
Just know that we are here to help, educate, and to serve, and we would love to work with this exceptional school district and do our part to offer exciting, innovative and imaginative educational experiences to Visalia youth.
We have been thrilled to be contacted by various journalists, authors, artists and activists in our fight to legalize miniature goats and chickens in Visalia, California.
Awhile back, we were contacted by Southern California author Todd Bagley, author of The RQ Factor. Todd messaged me:
“In the span of a few minutes during an interview you gave, I heard you key into a core issue: “apathetic voters”… as such I think you would appreciate our Foreword which introduces and unpacks and idea we call Kewl-Aid (Knowledge Enhanced Wishful Living is a snare for the Apathetic, Ignorant and Docile). Perhaps what we need is to realize that our problems are not caused by “right vs. left” as much as they are “up vs. down”.”
Intrigued, I agreed to meet Todd over coffee over Independence Day weekend.
We had a lively conversation, and I was happy to hear Todd expound on his book – a business text that addresses the pursuit of happiness in sales, marketing and leadership systems. At the end of our meeting, Todd gave Susan and I some autographed copies of his book.
I recently finished my copy, and while I am not a business-minded person, I found it an enlightening read and a great little book for life and liberty loving pursuers of Happiness!
Huge thank you to Todd for reaching out to Urban Farmers for Food Freedom! It’s amazing to see how many food freedom fighters there are out there joining us in this battle!
If you’d like to check out Todd’s book, visit www.theRQfactor.com
Yesterday we filed the Family Food Freedom Act in Visalia, CA! Rather than repeat myself, please watch the video below of me addressing the City Council and informing them of our efforts, along with the official language of our ballot initiative. Check it out!
I am here today to inform you of my efforts in the community. Since I last addressed the City Council asking for assistance and consideration regarding legalizing miniature goats, dozens of citizens of Visalia have come together to form the Political Action Committee, Urban Farmers for Food Freedom.
We formed in an effort to protect essential human rights and liberties, and to advocate for property rights and food freedom.
This is why I’m speaking here tonight. I’m here to inform you that Urban Farmers for Food Freedom has just returned from the City Clerks office earlier today, where we filed our Family Food Freedom Act Initiative, which, when voted on by the People, will legalize milk producing miniature goats and egg laying chickens within the City of Visalia.
I regret that it has come to this, but the time has come to take the decision making power out of uncaring hands, and put it where it belongs – with the People, the voters of Visalia. Because the fact of the matter is, Visalia is pro-goat and we vote.
I’d like to read you the official language we submitted, and I would like to – once again – invite each and every one of you to be representatives of the people of Visalia, to listen to your constituency, and to take a stand for families and food freedom.
Also, before I get into the language of the initiative, I really want to thank Amy and Warren for really listening to the people and putting the will of the public first and foremost in regards to the issue of chickens. You have done your duty as representatives of the public and that is admirable.
Now, from what I understand, every single one of you on the council still have the ability to embrace this and make this ordinance change happen without costing the citizens and the City of Visalia money in the election process – around $120,000 or more from what I understand. This ballot initiative will happen, as I’m sure all of you all well aware.
So why do you want to be wasteful? Why would you want to burn through taxpayers hard earned money over an inevitable ordinance change that you could resolve yourselves? Just to be stubborn?
Please keep in mind that it is not too late to make this change happen as I read this initiative to you.
The language we submitted is as follows:
FAMILY FOOD FREEDOM ACT
Food producing animals may be kept by any Family household within the Visalia City limits, as follows: A maximum of up to six (6) chickens, and up to four (4) miniature goats (miniature goats shall mean Nigerian Dwarf or African Pygmy breeds of goats), combined. A total maximum of ten (10) food producing animals shall not be exceeded per Family household.
The following requirements must be kept:
No Roosters may be kept.
No intact male goats older than ten (10) weeks (intact means not neutered).
There must be at least ten (10) square feet of permeable land area available for each chicken, plus adequate enclosed shelter space for all chickens.
There must be at least one hundred (100) square feet of permeable land area available for each miniature goat, plus adequate shelter space for each miniature goat.
Adequate shelter must be provided to protect the food producing animals from the elements and to prevent wildlife or other predators from gaining entry.
Adequate fencing shall be provided to prevent the food producing animals from escaping when not in their shelters.
The number of food producing animals allowed under this section shall not be counted against the number of dogs and/or cats allowed under other provisions of this code (See the municipal codes permitting up to four dogs and/or cats combined per Family household within the City limits).
And that’s it! It’s that simple. It’s that innocent. With Fourth of July fresh on everyones minds, now is a great time to take a stand for individual and family freedoms. As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, we’d love to work with you. This will happen and it would be a pleasure to have you folks on board and doing your part to serve and honor and fight for the values of Visalians.
Also, check out the Visalia Times Delta article from this morning! CLICK HERE TO READ!