PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
A chicken at Kitchen House Coffee contemplates life in the city.
A bill introduced at the Board of Aldermen last week would allow St. Louis families to keep up to eight chickens or rabbits on a normal-sized city lot — a sizable increase to what's currently permitted.
Under existing city ordinances, St. Louis residents are allowed no more than four pets total, and chickens and rabbits have no special classification. If you have three dogs and one chicken, for example, you've reached the cap.
See also: Confessions of a South Side Chicken Farmer
But the new bill
, sponsored by Alderwoman Cara Spencer and Christine Ingrassia, carves out a framework for small farm animals, namely chickens and rabbits, that is separate from pets. It would also allow one Vietnamese potbelly pig per household, although other large farm animals and roosters both remain expressly prohibited.
The new regulations are part of a broader effort to encourage urban farming within St. Louis.
The alderwomen worked with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, seeking to bring the city's ordinances that affect urban agriculture in line with best practices in other cities. The coalition's survey
, which involved more than 850 people, found broad support for such reforms locally.
An additional proposal from Ingrassia and Spencer would allow St. Louis residents to sell eggs, honey and produce from the property where they are grown, without costly business licenses.
Says Ingrassia, "It's all about letting people have easier access to food, and to make the city more sustainable." Selling home-grown produce won't make anyone rich, she acknowledges. "But if you can make a few extra bucks, that's a good thing."
Last year, a proposal to increase to six the number of chickens owned by city households couldn't attain passage at the Board of Aldermen. Spencer, for one, believes this year may be different.
"With the new energy on the board and more progressives on it, we should be able to get this passed," she says. She urges all of those interested in the issue to contact their alderman or woman to seek their support.
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