Urban Chicken Farmers Focus On Eating Local
April 30, 2012 9:08 PM
South Dakota has long had its roots deep in agriculture, so it's no surprise that many, even those who live in more populated parts of the state, feel a connection to food. Some in Sioux Falls have taken that a step further, bringing parts of farm life into the city.
Produce travels about 1,500 miles, on average, to end up on your plate. Wyatt Urlacher's family walks a little more than 15 feet to get theirs.
"I feed my 1-year-old son breakfast, and it comes from my backyard every morning," said Urlacher.
Volunteering for a farmer in Astoria, Wyatt and his wife got hooked on the idea of eating food grown close to home. They started with vegetables and quickly added *chickens* to their flock.
"I have two Plymouth Rocks, and a Buff Orpington, and two Americaunas, and a Rhode Island Red," said Urlacher, describing his poultry. "All of the breeds I have are cold hearty, and they also handle the heat well."
Just like the chickens don't have a "standard" look, neither do the eggs. They come in a variety of colors, including brown and blue. And for the Urlachers, the eggs are what it's all about.
"When I eat a 'conventional' egg, it's kind of hard to stomach," admitted Urlacher.
They get about five eggs a day--enough to feed the family and keep more of their diet local. Urlacher says he knows he's not alone in this goal.
"I think people have always been doing this, as long as Sioux Falls has been a city. ... I think it's anybody who's interested in health and self-sufficiency, sustainability," said Urlacher.
He says it's hard to know exactly how many others raise chicken in city limits, but the numbers are growing, and it seems to be the younger residents taking the most interest.
"You know, [people in their] 20s, 30s who want to have more control over their food, and they're looking for healthy food that's affordable," explained Urlacher..
While neighbors haven't jumped on board, they're not opposed to poultry near their property line.
"There's no problem in the neighborhood. It's a pretty quiet neighborhood, and I barely notice them," said Chad Boelhower, who lives nearby," said Chad Boelhower, who lives near the Urlachers.
From time-to-time, their acceptance of his flock pays off.
"He shares veggies and herbs with me all the time," said Boelhower.
Urlacher says his chickens take up less of his time than his dogs, and he'd encourage those who already garden to take the next step
"You feed your chickens healthy scraps from the garden, they produce better eggs and they also produce waste that we compost and put back into the garden, and that helps produce better vegetables," he explained.
Bringing their micro-farm full circle--in the heart of a city.
In Sioux Falls, it is legal to keep chickens, but the city ordinance is vague, with the only rule being that the chickens can't be a "nuisance".
Urlacher is part of a group called Homegrown Sioux Falls
that works to help teach residents how to keep chickens responsibly. He and other members of the group are part of the city's Urban Agriculture Task Force, which is working to craft new city ordinances to clarify which farm animals can be kept and under what guidelines.