It seems that every community that contemplates legalizing backyard chickens has to re-invent the wheel when it comes to all the same questions and objections about noise, smell and vermin that inevitably arise. Chickens have long been legal in big places like Seattle, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Minneapolis with barely any complaints. But smaller towns – where the city leaders still remember life on the farm with a passel of crabby Leghorns – have a tougher time seeing the benefits.
Grand Rapids, Michigan, is having that debate now and Joel Salatin, who might be America’s most famous farmer, has weighed in on the question via the Rapidian newspaper:
Editor's note: Joel Salatin, author of multiple books and a third-generation alternative farmer and sought-after conference speaker, has become known as "America's most influential farmer" after public discovery of his work thanks to Michael Pollan’s bestselling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. When he heard of the upcoming debate on chicken keeping being revived in Grand Rapids, he wrote to us to share his thoughts with our City Commissioners- and our residents as a whole- on what he thinks about keeping chickens in an urban environment.
You can follow the link to read Salatin's entire message to the citizens of Grand Rapids, but here’s a brief snippet to whet your appetite:
Perhaps the most independent-minded, democratic-styled policy any city could create is one that encourages householders to domicile a few chickens: pet, recycler, food provider. And if they're allowed to roam in the yard once in awhile, they eat ticks, bugs and other hygienic questionables. Chickens don't prowl around at night- they go to bed early. Really early. About the times you'd like your 8-year-olds in bed. Perhaps in that vein, chickens can be seen as a wonderful role model for our youth. They also get up early- really early. Tada!
Thanks, Joel. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.