The Case for Urban Chickens and Goats

I’ve finally finished writing a letter to Castlegar City Council, requesting an amendment to the Animal Control Bylaw and Zoning Bylaw to allow Goats and Chickens in Urban Areas.


To sum up the recommendations in the letter, I wrote…

It is my suggestion that council amend the Zoning and Animal Control Bylaws to permit the following:

  1. Hens to be permitted in residential zoned lands as pets and for local food production

  2. Miniature goats to be permitted as pets and local food production in residential areas, and subject to similar rules and regulations as dogs in reference to licensing and the use of fences and leashes as appropriate.

  3. Agriculture to be further defined to permit hens and miniature goats in residential zones as pets and for local food production.

This should come up at the next regular meeting of council and if it is deemed to have some merit would likely go to a planning and development committee meeting.

You can download the pdf of the letter at the bottom of this post.

I’d also like to thank Mammacomic for the inspiration and template of a letter that she’s written to the City of Calgary.

Edible Urban Agriculture

9293332_9e1a33b726Edible Cities is the title of a recently released report from a British group visiting US Cities for examples of Urban Agriculture. The report presents some interesting findings on the cultural differences between the UK and US models of urban farming…

Edible cities

  • A commercial element to many of the US projects, which is much less common in the UK;
  • A more liberal situation in the US than in the UK to encourage composting, but less willingness than in the UK to include animals in some urban agriculture projects;
  • Different approaches to fencing and public access to projects, which varied within the US, depending on context;
  • Imaginative and productive ways of growing without access to subsoil, either in raised beds on hard surfaces or, in one case, in hydroponics on a barge;
  • Inspiring use of an holistic and sustainable approach to fish farming in an urban area which produces marketable quantities of tilapia.

There’s a bit of a process involved with downloading the paper, and you are given an opportunity to donate to Sustain, but it is not an obligation of downloading the well presented 50 page pdf.


Urban Farming is alive and well in many cities around the world – the practice is far from mainstream, but has the potential to radically change urban food habits.

What is the least distance that any item of food you eat has travelled from where it was grown/raised? Do you live in an urban area?

Long Weekend

A busy weekend in the garden planting crops means less time for blogging. I’ve got some great stories lined up for this week though, so please check back, or even better subscribe to the feed.

On a different note, I just found out that I am a winner of the ProBlogger  book in a giveaway from Scribefire – the best in browser blog publisher, and my weapon of choice when live blogging conferences and when I’m on the run using portable firefox.

The Garden

Sometimes you just need to get your hands dirty. To date (mostly today) we’ve planted 2 varieties of potatoes, 2 varieties of carrots, 3 varieties of beans, peas, mountain spinach, amaranth, corn, sunflowers, dill, thyme, raspberries, squash, pumpkin, watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

We’ve still got hot peppers, bell peppers, more tomatoes, more squash, eggplant, and strawberry spinach to go. 

On the perennials side of things, we’re harvesting rhubarb and asparagus at the moment, and we’ve got stacks of horseradish, shallots, and garlic. Our fruit trees are getting going, with the peach tree just past blooming. We’re holding out for apples, plums, raspberries, red currents and blackberries, but we’ll also do some foraging for fruit through the summer.

Watershed Network

This week I’m attending a watershed network symposium being held at Selkirk College in Castlegar by the Columbia Basin Trust. I won’t be live-blogging it, but I’ll certainly take some time to publish my thoughts and commentary of the proceedings.

If you didn’t have a long weekend, I hope you had a good Monday!

Growing Grains Locally

Everyone I know that has tried or thought of trying the 100-mile diet has wondered where to get grains – for breads, cereal etc; and inadvertently stumbled on this issue of locally grown grains. As I’ve written before, we are signed up on this list for a Grain CSA out of Creston, BC this summer, but I was also curious as to how the local Castlegar summer and soil would handle some grains.

Salt Spring Seeds - Red Fife Wheat


The seeds for this trial have been sourced from Dan at Salt Spring Seeds, and as you can see from the above image, we’ve got Kamut, Oats, Red Fife Wheat, and Amaranth.

We have a good sized lot here, with a lot of grass. My thinking for this year though is to grow a small test plot of some of these varieties. and see where we go from there.  If in the future we wanted to convert larger sections of lawn to grains, at least we’ll have some idea of what to expect!

Below is an image of the area I cleared on Saturday with a little help from our five year old daughter. (I really should have taken a before and after shot!). It’s about 6sqm, or 60 sqf of easily irrigated soil. I didn’t add much to the soil, just a wheel barrow full of compost. As I said, it’s a trial, and I don’t know of anyone else in Castlegar growing grains at this stage – there may be a really good reason for that!


You never know, we might have enough for a batch of pancakes and a loaf of bread!

Australia is Hip to the Urban Ag Scene

Ecocity_B Some interesting news out of the Australian Agriculture scene this month…

A fresh new innovation in Australia’s urban agriculture –

The launch of Urban Ecological Systems (UES) on Wednesday April 2nd 2008 will include a public information session on “The Future of Food" – a view to urban agriculture and feeding our cities via sustainable food production systems.

If you’ve never head of UES, here’s a one minute primer, sounds like a name to keep your eyes on, (they won the episode round on the ABC Australia program New Inventors

UES is responsible for the innovation of Ecocity farms in Australia which have received world-wide attention with their new prototype of a farming system developed in Australia, since winning a recent episode of ABC-TV’s The New Inventors program with Technology & Innovation Award judge, George Lewin describing Ecocity Farms as "an idea whose time has come".

ecocityfarm – About Ecocity Farm

The ecoCity Farm is a water, energy and space efficient commercial aquaculture/plant production system packaged into a turn-key, IT supported farm-gate operation, suitable for use where conventional agriculture is not viable – including urban areas, and remote or environmentally sensitive locations.
It integrates both technological and marketing aspects to provide a total business solution to many of the major issues plaguing modern food production.

The Bigger Food Picture

Many people I talk to are oblivious to the potential food crisis that could befall the Western World as much as the Third World. Others insist that Oil will be replaced with a viable alternative before there are any ripple effects on food production or supply.

Vacant urban land, foreclosed properties, reclaimed industrial sites are all potential farm land sites with a technology like this. Sustainable food is a catch phase we haven’t heard the end of yet.