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As urban agriculture continues to grow in popularity across the country, the movement is getting new attention in the Washington region.
Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Walter Tejada said now is the time for the community to discuss its own agricultural options. Tejada said that would include the possibility of land exchange, rooftop gardens or even backyard hens.
Tom Carter, a member of the Arlington Egg Project, said he thinks it's great that the community would consider a backyard hen option. The Arlington Egg Project is a group of residents who promote the idea of allowing residents to keep a limited number of hens, while prohibiting roosters, in backyards.
"You are what you eat, and I can't think of any better way to illustrate that than to walk into your backyard, pick some vegetables from your yard that you grew, bring them into your house and prepare them, take the scraps back to the backyard and feed them into the hens who will then turn them into a healthy source of protein for us and fertilizer for the garden," Carter said.
Carter said many people may have issues with the idea of noise or cleanliness. But he argues that hens are actually quiet birds that will generally wake up when the sun comes up and sleep when it goes down. Unlike roosters, they also do not crow. Carter also said that unlike major manufacturers of eggs, having a limited number of hens in a yard would not be noticeable to neighbors.
"There may be some Arlington specific issues that we would need to look at restrictions or change some ordinances. We have to look at the pros and the cons as well and we will welcome people's ideas on the urban agriculture in a comprehensive way," Tejada said.
It would still be a couple months before the county will need to hear from the public on any options, Tejada said. First up a committee will meet with local agricultural experts on the plausibility of some of the options.