Learn to raise poultry, eat for a lifetime | TheUnion.com

Learn to raise poultry, eat for a lifetime

Everyone should be allowed to own a hen to lay fresh eggs, said Joyce Banzhaf, a Grass Valley resident who raises heritage turkeys on a half-acre near downtown.

Banzhaf is trying to change the zoning in the county to allow residents of parcels smaller than a half acre to own poultry. The change would allow county children to learn about raising small animals and allow families to provide more of their own food, proponents said.

“We can have three dogs on the tiniest residential lot, but we can’t have one hen,” she said.

Last week, Banzhaf introduced her proposal to the Nevada County Agricultural Advisory Commission. Another proposed zoning change would allow youth to raise larger farm animals such as pigs, goats and sheep on small acreage.

A member of the Local Food Coalition and an organic gardener, Banzhaf says her motivation for the zone change is influenced by a strong interest in sustainable food production.

“If families could even have a hen in the garage, they could have eggs for the family,” Banzhaf said.

Besides providing food for humans, turkeys and chickens fertilize the garden with their waste and they eat bugs, Banzhaf said as spring turkeys nibbled chard leaves at her feet.

Preliminary plans for the zone changes to allow poultry would exclude noisy birds like peacocks and roosters, said Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Pylman.

Current residential zoning denies the raising of pigs, sheep, goats and rabbits for consumption in properties of less than half an acre perched on the perimeter of towns.

But children in 4-H programs often live in these neighborhoods and want to raise an animal for exhibit at the Nevada County Fair, Pylman said.

As with existing zoning regulations, animal raising must not create a health problem or public nuisance. It could be limited to the season of March 1 through August 31 and require a minimum lot size or acreage, Pylman said.

The commission will consider adopting the two draft proposals next month. After that, the plan will go before the county planning commission before going to the board of supervisors for final approval.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.

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