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Growing Trend: Raising Chickens in City Backyards

Gavin Schaefer/Wikimedia Commons

The idea of tending small flocks of chickens in urban and suburban areas is growing as more city leaders across the country pass regulations allowing residents to keep backyard chickens. 

The idea of raising your own chickens is becoming so popular that San Francisco-based author Matthew Wolpe has co-written Reinventing the Chicken Coop, a manual on building chic, innovative, easily constructed but practical abodes for chickens. As he tours our region, he says he wrote the book because urban chickens are becoming increasingly popular.

Wolpe, who has four chickens in his backyard, hopes that promoting designer coops will make the idea mainstream.

But it can be a struggle to get approval from municipal authorities. In Albany, the city council approved a measure two years ago only to have Mayor Jerry Jennings veto it. City resident Martin Daley says the most frustrating part of advocating for allowing backyard chickens is countering misinformation.

Albany’s next-door-neighbor, Troy, is the only city in New York’s Capital District that allows backyard chickens. A small group of people who live in the north-central neighborhood founded the group Uptown Initiative. Member Billie-Jean Greene promoted the idea of backyard chickens as a way to promote sustainability and counter high food prices.

In Massachusetts, Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association founder Meg Taylor finds that many urban areas are being presented with ideas for updated or new regulations for urban, mini, and backyard farming.

According to backyardchicken.com, which has a database of communities with chicken ordinances, communities in our region that allow backyard chickens include Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski, Vt.; Beacon, Saratoga Springs, and NYC; and Holyoke, Springfield, Wilbraham, Chicopee and Boston, Massachusetts. Some restrict the number of chickens or may require permits.