Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Urban Farming and Community Building by Perla X. Caballero-Hoblit

Environmental Studies PHS 100A
Warner Pacific College
August 29, 2011

Today in society there seems to be a push towards self sustainability and being eco-friendly. This is very noticeable in the City of Portland, OR. In the community that I live in is called Sellwood, this community was small and yet had a great impact in the way that has changed the way that urban chicken raising is viewed.

The City of Portland in 2008, had a ban against livestock with in the city limits. This meant that there could not be chicken raising in the city, this law was amended in 2008 stating that there could be a limit of 3 chickens in your back yard. This has changed the sounds that you hear and also the quality of eggs that one wants to eat.

The city code that change was Portland City Code Chapter 13.05.015 § E. it states, “A person keeping a total of three or fewer chickens,...pygmy goats…shall not be required to obtain a specified animal facility permit.” This was effective February 15, 2008. What this began as a urban farming revolution that has changed the city code and as well started community building.

In the community of North Williams Ave. was featured in a Today show article in 2009. The article talks about how the sound of children playing, bicycles riding by and yet there is a new sound “a tiny warble of clucks coming from a chicken coop set in the front yard.” The article continues to talk about how the Mayor of Portland has two chickens in his backyard. Or how there is a community sharing of the eggs for neighbors to share the bounty in exchange for something. The once shut and unwelcoming neighborhood is opening doors and backyards.

The “Tour de Coop” is community event that has urban chicken farmers in Portland open their backyards and let the people visit their coops and see how they are raising their chickens. This is a self guided tour that has you learn about the backyard chicken raising but also sharing ideas as well and being a conversation. I have not been on the tour but in Sellwood it seems that one house on the block has a chicken coop.

My neighbors across the street are a three member family that when they shared that there were going to have chickens I was very excited for them. I could see the husband and son work on the month prior to the arrival of the chickens using recycled plywood to build the chicken coop. Then one day they came home with a box with the celebrity and new members of 8th Street. The three chickens were at first a little scared and did not want to leave the coop but after getting use to the sounds of cars passing by, the family dogs and cats that would walk into their backyard. They emerged; the three chickens are Carmella, Samantha and Brit Nichole.

Yes the chickens have names. I asked them why? Why would you name your chickens? They responded, “You name your dog or cat with the chickens they are a member of the household and they will be helping produce eggs for the family.” The eggs the best part of raising chickens.

The price for a dozen eggs can vary from the location or quality that you purchase. If you just want the bang for you buck then the chain grocery store dozen eggs can be about $1.50. If you would to have grass feed, free range, etc. the price of course goes up and you are paying about $3-4. Why the price difference? It is cheaper and the profit margin is higher when the chickens are in cages feed a processed chicken feed.

Unlike the farmer that is taking more land, not buying the feed and using grass to feed the chickens. Similar to the urban chickens that now live across the street of me, the chickens have been seem pecking away the weeds and worms that live in the grass. They help keep the yard look great but are also helping have un-welcomed weeds be generated for food.

I have yet to have chickens even though I really would like to have three. I picture myself in the morning after I have walked my dogs. Going to the backyard and visiting with my chickens. Feeding them, changing their water, adding more bedding, and seeing how many eggs they laid for me. The fact that once I thought that this idea was only possible if I lived outside of city limits is now possible thanks to the idea of community that found a grandfathered law that spread to the city and has even spread across the nations.


Holt, Lester (Performer). (2009, September,) In Portland, OR urban chickens rule the roost [Television series episode] in Today Show. New York: NBC.

City of Portland, (2011). Specified animal regulations Portland, OR; Retrieved from http://portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=28228#cid_13497

Growing Gardens 2011 Tour de Coops Blog


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