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Backyard chickens would be step toward better self-sufficiency
While most of us are harvesting fall household crops and thinking about cleaning up the garden for the year, "urban agriculture" proponents in one Nebraska town have been frustrated in their attempt to expand the practice.
Not content to supplement their family food supply with traditional garden vegetables, several of them went before the Papillion City Council to request permission to keep up to four chickens in their back yards.
The council rejected the proposal on a 6-2 vote, parting ways with Omaha and Bellevue, which allow chickens in the city limits.
Papillion is swimming against an international tide that is seeing more and more urban residents involved in urban agriculture through animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry and horticulture.
It's becoming popular in places like Detroit. with vacant lots available for use as miniature farms, and in times like now with high unemployment and government programs and private food pantries straining to keep up with the demand.
Urban farming can be practiced for cash income as well as food production, although many enjoy it just for recreation and relaxation.
It gives economically disadvantaged people a chance to help feed themselves, their families and neighbors with fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits, meat and protein in "food deserts" where they might otherwise not be available.
While far from being an "urban" area, McCook can benefit from such practices, and a new community garden, just completing its first season, supports a weekly community meal as well as providing nourishment for others in need.
As a rural community, we're never far from a farm, and many of us enjoy "farm eggs" supplied by our neighbors in the country.
We remember the controversy over potbelly pigs a few years ago, and certainly wouldn't wish any more animal control problems on a police department that already has more than its share.
Still, we'd like to see the City Council consider a change in ordinances to allow chickens in the city limits, within reasonable restrictions such as having only about four birds and having no roosters to bother the neighbors. The move would be a step toward helping more of us and our children learn how to be self-sufficient.