Monthly Archives: August 2015

Urban Farmers for Food Freedom Membership

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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

Membership Benefits

WELCOME GIFT

I’m Pro Goat Bumper Sticker.
Urban Farmers for Food Freedom T-Shirt (for Sponsors, Fighters and Guardians.)
Membership Card

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Monthly informational email newsletters.

EVENTS

Invitation to exclusive Urban Farmers for Food Freedom events.
Volunteer opportunities in the community.
Attendance at members only meetings in person and via Skype.

Some Fast Facts and FAQ About Backyard Chickens

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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.

Rebuttal to The Fresno Bee “Opinion” Article

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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.

Answers to Common Arguments Against City Chickens

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“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.

Idee Has Her Kids!

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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!

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