Urban Agriculture, Chickens, and a Crystal Farmer’s Market

This is an exciting time for urban agriculture, and especially for living near such a progressive big city as our neighbor Minneapolis is.  There have been a lot of new urban agriculture initiatives that have passed in the greater metro area that I will bring to Crystal.

We live in an uncertain economic time.  Much of our food comes from very far away.  Fuel prices are increasing which increases food prices.  Also, it is difficult to know where your food has come from and how your food was produced.  I am aware of my neighbors’ increasing desire to be reconnected to our food sources.  I want to bridge that gap and bring that reconnection back into our community.   The urban agricultural initiatives outlined below will bring us new economic opportunities, as well as reduce our food costs by producing our own commodities.

I will work to permit larger agricultural operations by homeowner farmers on residential property and to permit the sale of produce at farmers markets and directly by homeowner farmers to the public.  

Farmers Market

I support the City of Crystal opening and operating its own farmers’ market.  The New Hope farmers market has become incredibly successful.  It would be an outlet for growers from Crystal and the surrounding area to sell their goods directly to the public.  It also would give Crystal residents a very local connection to their food.  I think we need innovative business ideas such as this during our difficult economic time.

Backyard Fowl

I support allowing homeowners to keep fowl (such as chickens, ducks, etc.) on their properties.  In Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, New Hope, and Maple Grove it is legal to have chickens in your yard for personal egg consumption.  I will propose an ordinance that regulates the number of chickens per yard, humane best management practices, mandatory inspections, prohibitions on roosters and slaughtering, and permitting the sale of eggs.  In New Hope and Robbinsdale, similar ordinances have worked very well for the people who are currently raising chickens.

It is beneficial environmentally.  Chickens help build the soil by scratching and by composting their manure into a rich, soil amendment.  This creates a soil that water is better able to infiltrate while increasing it’s water storage capacity, thus reducing run-off.  It is also a rich medium for growing plants when properly composted.

For these reasons, I support repealing the current city code that doesn’t allow fowl within the City of Crystal.

Composting

I will also  propose an ordinance permitting a greater number of materials to be composted by homeowners, as well as collected by the city. The current code only allows for items that are yard waste (e.g. leaves, grass clippings, etc.).  We should fully promote the idea of more composting by allowing the composting of certain food waste including fruit and vegetable scraps, but not including meat scraps, egg, and dairy items.  This ordinance will also include city collection of leaves, grass clippings and yard waste to be taken to the Hennepin County facility as a means of reducing our waste stream.

Native Plants and Prairie Grass

I support expanding the use and easing the regulations of growing perennial native prairie grasses and other native plants.  I support easing lawn mowing requirements when people are growing these plants.  The City of Crystal currently allows homeowners to do this, but the code requires an intensive plan to be submitted by the homeowner.  I will encourage more homeowners to plant native species by easing the complexity of the plan.

Homegrown Minneapolis is a website produced by the City of Minneapolis about their urban agriculture initiatives and resources.

 

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