Our city is on the forefront of urban agriculture. This past fall, Somerville government officials passed regulations and an ordinance allowing residents to keep chickens, bees, and personal commercial farms right in their own backyard.
In most cities, zoning laws hinder homesteading activities such as these due to conflicts with health, safety, and noise regulations. But with proper governmental regulations and restrictions, selling your own vegetables and keeping your own hens can be a safe, rewarding path towards self-sufficiency. Newly approved regulations include, for example, a requirement to run an annual soil health test if one plans to sell vegetables grown on one’s property. Chicken owners are allowed to keep hens, but because of concerns about noise, roosters are not allowed to be kept on Somerville lots.
As discussed in the Boston.com article above, many Somerville residents were already keeping chickens and bees, and some may have sold vegetables. These preemptive steps by the Somerville government, at precisely the time that urban agriculture is taking off across the city and country, demonstrate Somerville’s commitment to the sustainability and local-food movements.
A crowded city – indeed, Somerville is the most densely populated city in New England – might seem like the last place to put up miniature farms, but the sheer number of mouths to feed is reason enough to grow food wherever we can. Whether it is veggies, eggs, or honey, urban ag is here to stay in Somerville.