Even now, three years after our last chicken disappeared, I still get calls from people looking for eggs or chicken. I hate taking these calls, because it hurts me to disappoint these people. I want to raise chickens, but I haven’t been able to do so for three years.
Initially, this was because I didn’t have adequate security. I was raising the birds at an old house a couple blocks away from where we lived at the time. After so many thefts and predator attacks, I decided I just couldn’t farm there anymore until I moved in so I could guard the place full-time. I focused my attention on fixing up that old house, and in 2013, my family and I moved in.
But at that point, I still couldn’t resume raising chickens, because the county had passed a new zoning regulation saying that no more than 24 chickens could be raised on any property smaller than five acres. We have something like 4.85 acres, so that put me out of the chicken business.
According to state law, however, if we had more than five acres, neither the township nor the county would have any authority to regulate agriculture on our land. In other words, if he have more than five acres, we’re exempt from the county zoning rule about livestock.
It just so happens that there’s a vacant lot adjoining our land that’s big enough to put us over that five-acre mark if we were to buy it. A little over two years ago, I contacted the county land bank to have them seize the property and sell it to me. Last year, they bulldozed the burned down house on that lot, cleaned up the trash, and planted grass. There were some delays while they offered the elementary school on the other side of the lot the opportunity to buy the land, but the land bank is finally offering me the chance to buy it. In the time I’ve been waiting, however, another person has come forward and expressed interest in buying it. (I don’t know who they are or what they want to do with the land.) So rather than just telling me how much they want for it, the land bank is telling me to submit an offer.
Obviously, this is going to drive the price up. I don’t have the cash on hand to make a competitive offer right now, and there’s no way we could get an affordable bank loan, having declared bankruptcy last year, so I’m starting a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. I’m not sure what the exact launch date will be, as I’m still putting together a video, but it will be soon. It probably won’t take me more than a week, but Indigogo has announced a rate change beginning July 15 that could potentially save me a few hundred dollars in fees if I wait until then. It’s just a question of whether I can put off the land bank long enough to do that.
I’m hoping that, with your help, we can make this place a destination for people who want to support and learn about urban agriculture.