Update on Ypsi urban farming

According to our friend Brackache, it looks as though local farming rights activist Peter Thomason has lost his court case with the City. Now it looks as though it’s up to City Council, who will be discussing the legalization of urban chickens, goats and bees during their February 17 meeting.

Those interested in getting more involved on this front are encouraged to fill out the new Growing Hope surveys on urban chickens and urban farming, and, if possible, attend the second Ypsi Urban Farmers’ Breakfast, which is scheduled for the morning of Monday, February 16 (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM) at Beezy’s, to discuss the future of urban agriculture, community gardening, and CSAs in Ypsilanti.

The following comes from Amanda Edmonds, the Director of Growing Hope:

…The City of Ypsilanti currently does not allow the keeping of chickens, goats, bees, or other “farm”-type animals. A minor change in the city ordinance involving agriculture is on City Council meeting agenda on February 17th, 2009. That meeting will include a public hearing (the first of two) on that ordinance change. While the proposed change does not (explicitly) allow for the keeping of these animals, it gives an opportunity for community feedback about urban agriculture and specifically the allowance of chickens. This brief survey aims to gather community input on potential ways the ordinance could be changed in the future, as well as identify potential supporters of urban agriculture. The cumulative results will be shared with City Council and in the community by Growing Hope…

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  1. Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    One wonders if people will bring goats, chickens and bees into the City Council meeting… A few days ago, Bill Gates released a box of mosquitos on an audience, and it seemed to be quite effective.

  2. The Exterminator
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    So… if I find a nest of honeybees in somebody’s overhang or wall, can I make a citizen’s arrest?

  3. Amanda
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    hey mark– a correction– you linked to the ypsi chicken survey, which is all good… but called it the urban farmer survey…. there are two surveys– the ypsi urban farmer survey (which was a follow up to the first ypsi urban farmer breakfast) is at http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=pj-dQ-ivCZlNiW7kqHECXYA&hl=en …this one is longer– takes maybe 20 minutes or so…

    and then as you first linked the ypsi urban chicken survey is here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=pj-dQ-ivCZlO0jFXNU0hISQ&hl=en ….this one is quick and specifically about people’s views on chickens and other urban livestock ordinances! yesterday for a time there were some formatting issues on the form, but i fixed those last night, so if you tried yesterday and it looked funny, go try again. believe it or not, 104 people have already participated!

    thanks for spreading the word…

  4. Posted February 9, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I’ll make the change. Thanks, Amanda.

  5. Amanda
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    another note– i think for the march ypsi urban farmer meeting we’re going to make it a saturday morning to catch some folks who can’t do the weekday…

  6. Posted February 9, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    well, shit. I better have that third room finished for a saturday meeting.

  7. eschewanonymynity
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    — almost all cities in SE Michigan allow beekeeping, let alone townships, and keeping of hens isn’t that uncommon, provided neighbors agree. Ann Arbor unequivocably states the right to keep the former, and the latter is allowed per the recent changes that we all have read about. What’s so different 1 mile W of here that we cannot have the same?

    — It would be fun to see the city spend the time and energy, and money on reducing other problems (I resist the urge to state “real crimes”) that they have on this single issue.

    I for one am in favor of encouraging people to stake a claim and take pride in their small piece of this small city, and plant 4 hens, a hive of bees, or a big veggie garden in their front yard . I feel that the current ordinances are unusual in the state, and demonstrably are unusual even for the mainly developed, urban SE Michigan.

  8. chicken
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    uh… i like livin in da city. And so do a lot of other chicks by the way… if you think this city farming stuff is wierd and unusual — not so! The Thomasons are doing NOTHIN compared to other city farmers that have lotsa city support.

    other big city people seem to love this stuff – awk!

    See: Boston city goats, rabbits, chicks, bees, livestock etc from “the garden girl” http://www.gardengirltv.com/pets_small_livestock_raising_chickens_rabbits_goats.html

    Pasadena: The Dervaes family – Homegrown Revolution http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCPEBM5ol0Q

    Milwaukee & Chicago: Where the farmer made news in the New York Times for being given the MacArthur award (Urban farmer Will Allen was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2008. The Fellowship is a $500,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more. ) – see: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/01/dining/01genius.html

    on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EpTWQWx1MQ

    or a video about his milwaukee urban farm that provides fresh produce to the local co-op: Pt one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k39D2myzRFQ
    Pt Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NutSMk2mpdM
    Pt Three Covers the aquaculture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kENge18wIqg

    uh, not to mention, of course, the lively livestock being encouraged in …
    well, you know, Portland, Oregon.

  9. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 11:42 pm | Permalink


    According to section 4.4 of city code Peoria, IL does not allow “farm animals” which includes poultry (and chickens are ninety percent poultry). You may have all your fancy elitist east coast and west coast examples, but, for me, I won’t do shit unless Peoria does it first.

    Just something I live by.

  10. Posted February 11, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    gosh, shucks, awk! — i didn’t realize that Milwaukee and Chicago, the major urban farm citations given, were fancy elitist east or west coast places, but golly Ol’ E Cross, thanks for educating me
    about that — I feel like a newly enlightened chicken now!

  11. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Is chicken supposed to sound like that cartoon chicken in the Saturday Night Live sketch that got its head cut off? I think it was late 80’s or 90’s. Anyone remember that one?

  12. nammeroo
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone on City Council read the historical plaque on the water tower lately? Those receiving water from the tower were taxed for each faucet, and there was an extra charge for each COW. All we’re looking for is to live in a more self-sustaining way by keeping a few hens for eggs and perhaps bees for honey. No heifers, really.

  13. Posted February 11, 2009 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow Brackinald — you guys get so uh, er animated and… aggressive in your fantasy life when someone simply has a different perspective. Something tells me you must be a boy with testosterone, and not an ypsi chick.

    Yah, good thing you all aren’t fancy elitists.

  14. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Chicken — did you feel like my comment was an attack? While that’s certainly a valid feeling, I am pro urban chickens myself (I’m inferring from your posts that you’re pro urban chickens). So no, it wasn’t an attack.

    It’s just the way you’re spelling stuff it seems like you’re trying to communicate an accent, and I keep hearing that cartoon chicken from Saturday Night Live because my friends and I used to quote it to each other incessantly in highschool. “Whoa, I’m feelin’ kinda whoozy! Must be the lack of oxygen to my brain!!!”

  15. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Now that I read over my last comment, I certainly can’t blame you for feeling like it was, but that “lack of oxygen to my brain” part was also not an attack. It’s just what the cartoon chicken said on SNL that we found so hilarious in highschool.

  16. Daniel
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Hey Nameroo: a few hens would be a relief from what my rebel neighbor is doing. Having over 40 hens, and 6 goats seems to be little more than attention getting antics.

    I have no problem with urban agriculture – but livestock belongs in the township. For a city that is approx. 4.2 sq miles I don’t think this will be a problem for the vast majority of residents. And for those who can’t live without chickens – head West.

  17. Dan
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    More Ypsilanti urban farming updates:

    Urban Chickens:

    Seed Starting Squad:

  18. nammeroo
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Hey Daniel,

    We all have our neighbors to bear. I once had one that used to enjoy illicit substances with friends in their back yard during the summer months – which meant that unless I wanted to ‘enjoy’ the smoke from those substances wafting through my house I had to close my windows. Numerous attempts to ask them to relocate their activities so the prevailing winds took the evidence elsewhere made no difference.

    I would’ve traded that neighbor for livestock any day.

  19. Citizen Blogger
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    eschewanonymity: “I feel that the current ordinances are unusual in the state, and demonstrably are unusual even for the mainly developed, urban SE Michigan.”

    Really? Please demonstrate. I won’t be unreasonable and demand that you show me ordinances from a majority of the 500-odd municalities in Metro Detroit, but I’d like to see some examples. (Preferably from actual cities with population density similar to Ypsilanti’s, not townships with acre lot standards.) I’m guessing that Ypsilanti will soon permit some chicken-keeping, but I think that it’ll be way ahead of most of its peers, not a laggard in doing so.

    “It would be fun to see the city spend the time and energy, and money on reducing other problems that they have on this single issue.”

    Oh? How much time has the city spent on this issue? I had been under the impression that Mr. Thomason’s been raising chickens for about two years now, and steadily adding additional animals. As far as I know, though, all the city’s done in that time is issue him a single civil infraction ticket. What did they do up until then? Probably they just weren’t paying attention, because they were focusing on other things up until somebody brought the goats to their attention with a complaint.

    So the city has, what, 40 full-time police officers, but when the ordinance enforcement guy goes out and writes a single ticket, suddenly the city is ignoring “real crimes”? Maybe the ordinance guy could have spent that hour getting somebody to cut their weeds or shovel their sidewalk, but I’m not convinced the city has the obsession with the issue you think they do.

    You act as though the city is hunting down people for every last hen, or criminalizing vegetable gardens, but your evidence for this argument is a single case in which there are dozens of chickens, some goats, some rabbits, etc. I certainly agree with you that keeping a vegetable garden or a few hens is fine and dandy (I have the former myself and would like the latter), but the conspiracy theory extremism is hardly the way to make that happen.

  20. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Citizen Blogger, I think it’s 272 local jurisdictions in SE MI , but that doesn’t change your point.

    nammeroo, Just a suggestion, but I think we should steer away from the “there’s things worse than chickens” approach. First off, it implies that chickens are a nuisance. I may prefer, to use a past example from this blog, to eat human vomit over dog shit, but it doesn’t mean either are good. I’d prefer courteous stoner neighbors to rude chicken owning neighbors.

    Put another way, would you want the previous neighbors you mentioned to also be raising livestock? How many livestock? What else might waft through your windows?

    A couple years ago I looked at a foreclosed house in the city. Filthy and full of waste. In the backyard, there was a large hole with an engine block in it, apparently awaiting burial. There was also a chicken coop. I’d trust any of my current neighbors to raise hens. Be glad if they did. But, if I lived next door to someone who’d bury an engine block, I’d want an ordinance that allowed me some protection.

  21. Daniel
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I have no problem with urban farming. If Peter would have stuck to veggies and greens ect. we wouldn’t have a problem. In his own subtle yet in-your-face kinda way he is being a real jerk. I bought my place when no farm existed – now one does. You can bet your bottom dollar I would have thought twice about investing a lot of time and money into this house if I would have known this goof would have decided to raise chickens and goats.

    His set up wouldn’t even pass the smell test in Ann Arbor. Ethically, I think his care/containment of his animals is hardly different from industrial farms – just smaller in scale. Just because you post cute pictures of animals on your blog doesn’t mean they have any better living conditions.

    As far as I know raising farm animals is hardly sustainable unless you have sufficient land to provide for them. Perhaps Peter would be willing to share information on his “research” findings. Maybe he can detail fossil fuel consumption in order for him to get hay for the animals – or how many miles the animals were shipped to arrive at his door, or how many trips he makes around to the back of his house with his mini-van to deliver supplies to the hens and goats. Anyone who pulls a mobile chicken coop behind a tractor in a parade can hardly be taken seriously when they speak of sustainability.

    Nameroo: As for neighbors, I would take a hippie stoner over a hippie animal farmer any day too…

  22. Posted February 15, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Since I’ve been compared to Steve Martin before, appearance-wise that is, the reference to my being a “jerk” is quite funny. “The Jerk” was an hilarious movie. I confess, my roots, like his in the movie, are Southern…I am really just a Southern redneck farmer from Louisisana (who can’t dance either), can’t get the country out of me Daniel.

    Oh, btw, if one reads the GAAMPS – Generally Accepted Agricultural Practices, our management practices exceed the suggestions there, hardly what you might call “industrial” farming. And remember, one day when we let the chickens out in the yard for some free-ranging, and a few of them strayed into your backyard, it was you who called the police…were you afraid that they were going to steal some of your bugs?

    And just an update: we are appealing the decision that Judge Tabbey rendered on the legality of the ordinance. The UM law clinic which represents us feels, as we do, that his interpretation of law and language in the RTFA had some pretty glaring holes in it and needs to be challenged.

    Ultimately, one way or another, this is all going to come down to deciding what we, as an urban community, want to have in our – and our neighbor’s – backyards. To simply say that the township is where animals should be is to miss the interconnectedness of them with us and the health of the soil. Funny too is the fact that in many cities, neighborhood associations and developers are actively looking for ways to incorporate the very things we are doing into their plans . I know this not just from hearsay but becasue I am consulting with them. It also assumes that I could just up and sell my house for what its worth just because I want to – I’ve tried before and the market just ain’t that good.

    This discussion that Mark has hosted for several years now has been extremely helpful – thank you Mark! The one thing I don’t get is when people feel that it is acceptable to call people names and make ad hominem attacks on each other simply because they disagree. I am neither a hippie, or a blatherer – I spent a lot of good money on my education and I work hard for my family and my community – and besides, you are insulting my parents and the way they raised me… If I am a “rebel” I am a reluctant one but hey, a little non-violent rebellion now and then is important in a free society.

    Pete the Rebel Farmer

  23. Posted February 15, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    6 goats and 40 chickens is too much for that small a space. Maybe that might be ok in New Delhi, but not in Ypsi.

    I read this guy’s site. He’s a crackpot begging for attention.

  24. rodneyn
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    The number of animals vs. amount of land argument is a very old one – typical zoning ordinances in years past tried to set a “per acre” standard for various animals. Most of these standards were fairly arbitrary, and some could even be considered punitive.

    All of them are pretty much out-the-window in the face of the Right to Farm Act and GAAMPS. The MDA’s Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices provide far more comprehensive and detailed standards than the vast majority of local ordinances.

    Two chickens and one goat on a 1/2 acre lot could be a huge issue for the area is applicable GAAMPs are not followed, while many more animals could be raised on a far smaller lot if done in strict compliance to those standards. The number of animals and size of the lot is less of a contributing factor to problems than the level of complaince with GAAMPS.

  25. Posted February 15, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Regardless of what you may think about Peter’s farm, and whether he’s pushed the limits too far, my hope is that people can at least appreciate the effort he’s put forward in order to get this matter addressed by City Council and the courts. Maybe four goats is too much, but I think that most people would agree that some small number of urban chickens, if well attended to, would be acceptable. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I appreciate the efforts of all of those involved to find a compromise that will work for our City.

  26. Posted February 15, 2009 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Mark, well stated!

  27. Doris
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    I am so happy to find this. I own a lovely condo in Ypsilanti Township near the lake. Pet ownership including birds is clearly allowed in the association agreement. I lived here for over a year with my hen Rosemary. It is a two bedroom and one was devoted to her. I kept it very, very clean and very well maintained. I also have a fenced patio where she spent summer days. Last spring the association forced me to remove Rosemary based on complaints from unnamed owners. She is now living with friends up north while I figure this out. I feel like I am being discriminated against. People in the complex have loud dogs, intrusive cats that have come onto my property to hassle Rosemary, snakes, reptiles, ferrets and countless noisy parrots and show birds to name a few. I can’t walk down the sidewalk without stepping in dog crap and dogs wake me up all night yet my pet was singled out for being nuisance!
    The township laws describe poultry as “all domestic fowl, ornamental birds and game birds.” It wasn’t needed because of my carefulness but chickens are even given special provision. “Sec. 14-86. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess, keep, shelter or harbor within the township any animal, including a dog or cat, which causes an offensive stench, odor or smell which extends into the property of another. This provision shall not apply to the following farm animals: horses, cattle, sheep and chickens.”
    I do not comprehend why dogs, cats and parrots are allowed in condos and apartments but chickens are not. Believe me I smell my neighbors dogs. I feel I have a right that is being violated. I want to pursue litigation but simply cannot afford to if I lose. Please, if anyone can offer any advice as to the merits of my case. The only difference I see between Rosemary and other pets is she laid eggs and didn’t bother anyone. This may be about the case of a homeowner but I don’t see why it wouldn’t apply to me and others in apartments and condos. I can’t afford to sell my condo and buy a house right now in this economy. I even looked at a couple houses but found the real estate agents said I needed five acres in the township to have one chicken. Five acres for one chicken! Forget apartments. Tell them you have a twelve foot python and they’re fine say hen and they practically hang up on you. I feel like I have a strong case but can’t afford to hire a lawyer and lose which would do me or Rosemary no good. Has anyone else faced this? What should my next step be? Please help! Thank you.

  28. amused1
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I think the real question here is this: Should the baseball team be called the “Urban Chicken Liberators”, the “Ypsi Chicken Liberators” or just the “Urban Chickens”?

    I bet Mark’s readers would have a great time creating a mascot chicken decked out in bling and a bomber jacket, maybe even a beak grill. Then again, an old school greaser chicken might be the way to go. Perhaps it could be an art contest at the Brewery?

    There could be a whole cottage industry based around the Urban Chickens. I’m seeing menu items, clothing, “The Chicks” sports club, an annual chicken beauty pageant, a dance team, official recipe books, bbq equipment, a chicken cooking contest, all manner of add ons.

  29. Posted February 16, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    People should have to attend a training course to be able to keep animals (including cats and dogs). Only then should you get a permit. There are lots of shitty animal owners. It’s amazing that we need permits and training to drive but don’t need them to take care of living creatures, including babies.

    I don’t care what you say. 40 chickens and 6 goats on 1/10th an acre in a city is too much.

    This guy is like a spoiled kid. Obviously his neighbors are annoyed and he has done nothing but escalate the whole thing like a screaming child.

  30. Huckett
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I feel bad for Doris and Rosemary. Too bad you guys don’t live next to me–I think it would be cool to have a neighbor with a pet chicken! Not sure about 40….

  31. Daniel
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Personally I think Peter looks more like Bill Murray.

    Dude: You should have been there when he asked me how I liked living next to a local celebrity. I was kinda confused at first – not knowing who he was referring to, until it dawned on me that he considers himself a celebrity. This was before I even lodged my complaint with the city. Unbeknownst to me Peter was already deep in a pissing match with the city.

    I still didn’t see any data presented. Those of you who have visited his blog know he calls his farm a “research project” on sustainability. He must have close to two years worth of data collected. (Psss – Peter it’s o.k. if your research findings don’t support your hypothesis. That’s why it’s called “reserach”). But let’s not hold our breath – I doubt rebel Peter has the honesty to actually calcuate the fuel consumption for his glorified petting zoo. Much less the methane gas given off by his manure pile. Peter is way too good at spin to come clean.

    Peter: a quick primer on “market” value. Market value is determined by what some pays or gets paid for a certain house. When you say “It also assumes that I could just up and sell my house for what its worth”. Huh…? Whatever price you get for your house “determines” its worth. Duh! What I think you meant to say is “what I think it’s worth”. Most everyone, myself included, probably thinks their house is worth more than it really is. This is usually based on things like sweat equity and emotions. But if you could not sell your house it was probably due to one of two things. 1. You didn’t get an offer that you liked. 2. You didn’t get an offer. Based on conversations I’ve had with those that looked at your house – I’m going to guess #2…. A cursory walk around chez shit farm would probably be enough to scare off most intelligent buyers. Hint: painting over rotten wooden siding doesn’t stop the wood from rotting – it just covers it up. But I’m sure you knows this – being the “builder” that you are.

    As for the name calling – lighten up. If referring to you as a “goof” or a “jerk” is as harsh as I get – oh well. Given the world today – I think it’s downright quaint.

    (Daniel – the big bad capitalist landlord)

  32. Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    I like the pictures of him on the Segway.

  33. monica
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I have to say, Daniel and Dude, that I’m one of those folks who is glad Peter’s doing what he is. There really are larger issues at stake here that I think just get lost in the shuffle. And one’s that take quite a bit of space to discuss, so its hard to get into it here. This is why I don’t see people getting into much of the content of why urban farming is happening — ie why would a MacArthur award go to a guy in Milwaukee who is doing urban farming?
    Obviously there is a strong interest nationally in seeing such projects survive.

    As far as property values go, well, I don’t think you’re doing justice to the dilemma that many folks are in due to the sinking of the real estate market,
    and how much people have invested in their homes. For most people, having to sell in recent years, this is a difficult dilemma.

    I’m sorry to hear that you remain so distressed over your neighbors. It just seems to me that Rebecca and Peter would be wonderful neighbors for many reasons apart from this situation, along with their family.

    While all of us are human, and neighbors tend to see us over time at our best and our worst, and perhaps at our crankiest… I know my neighbors have seen me at my “not best” — Any time I’ve seen them in action they’ve been tremendously kind to others around them. They seem to me to really be in every way “good neighbors” If I were in my 30s and a renter I would love to live next to them and, as I mentioned before, would see that as a plum for a rental situation.

    I have a housemate who moved here from Philadelphia (grad student at EMU) and who lives in my house, primarily because she, like many other younger adults, is very interested in fresh food, and lowering her carbon footprint. She arrived from Philadelphia with no car and two bicycles, and has pretty much used these, her feet or the bus since she arrived… because of these concerns. She was also attracted by the existence of Peter’s endeavors.

    I also have a house in Depot Town where i gardened for 15 + years, and the
    renters I have there now, all were attracted to the house, in part because of being able to garden together, and wanting to be part of a community where something like what Peter is doing was supported.

    There are, of course, in my situation, renters who would say: “Are you going to give me a big rent deduction if I garden?” Rather than those who are excited to see this opportunity to finally, without being able to be a homeowner yet, have an organic garden right in their back yard and a landlord who encourages this, rather than one who would not want anyone changing the yard. So I advertise to reach those who are in the second category because I don’t want to waste time on the others, it
    will not work, they have no clue about how to garden anyhow.

    I agree it has been a challenging rental situation in recent years, with a glut of rental units for a variety of reasons. However there is no doubt in my mind that Peter’s situation is a real draw for people in their late 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s and that if you used this as a plum for your place to attract people, you would find that you don’t have any problem with getting good renters of the sort that Ypsilanti has declared it wants to attract.

    Many younger adults believe there is a need for urban farming, people to pioneer this effort to make a more sustainable and local food system. If you should ever want help in being able to market your rentals in this way, I’d be happy to help you out with that Daniel. Of course you’ll have an easier time of it if you have folks you’re showing your place to who actually see this as a positive attraction and would appreciate this. I think you’d find that this would position you to have a secure rental market, and one that will be increasingly seen as desirable in the rental market ahead.

  34. Posted February 17, 2009 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    There is nothing wrong with gardening nor with keeping a reasonable amount of pets and animals. 40 chickens and 6 goats is too much for that small a space, not to mention that he’s slaughtering goats for meat within a stones throw of somebody’s bedroom window. That’s not “urban farming”. That’s excess.

    That would never fly in any of the surrounding rural townships, why should it be allowed in Ypsi?

  35. Posted February 17, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I just found some nice information about DIY goat slaugthering. Turns out that to kill a goat in your own backyard requires nothing more than a sharp blow to the head or a gun shot to the brain.


  36. Daniel
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Monica, as I’ve said before – I have no problem with urban farming or total gung ho gardening. I’ve offered to let my teanant garden their heart out. But no one has taken me up on the offer.

    As for animials – perhaps if your rental house had the am0unt of farm animals next to it that mine does you might change your tune. Also, who is going to come and pay for an empty apartment when no one wants to be disturbed by animals sounds (and there are plenty) or the stench of a manure pile, or being scared off (justified or not) by possible health risk…?

    What is also getting lost is my right to have a rental property in a city – remain a city setting. Where is the sympathy for someone like me trying to make MY living – doing the best I can with the current situation?

    For the most part Peter and his family are nice people – I’ve never said they are not. But doing this without permission and being self-righteous and pompous about it will only serve to undermine the issue.

    Monica/Dude – feel free to call me anytime to discuss. 734-646-6673

  37. Posted February 17, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Mark deleted my post! I cry censorship.

    I posted a nice and informative pamphlet on how to slaughter goats at home and Mark deleted it. Just to let you all know.

  38. Posted February 17, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Oh wait, there it is. Lazy mark has just not gotten around to allowing it. Sorry, Mark!

  39. Daniel
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Where is it?

  40. Posted February 17, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Exactly! IT’S NOT THERE!!! Methinks that Mark is part of the liberal conspiracy to suppress information.

    That’s a joke, by the way.

  41. monica
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Daniel – you wrote: who is going to come and pay for an empty apartment when no one wants to be disturbed by animals sounds (and there are plenty) or the stench of a manure pile, or being scared off (justified or not) by possible health risk…?

    Daniel, I just told you… there are people for whom this would be a big plus…hard to imagine, but there are folks who like the sound of farm animals… you don’t seem to be able to hear this. Guess its hard for you to believe. The next vacancy you have, seriously, lets work on marketting your place together.

    and, about the stench, — its so puzzling to me that you say that because I’ve been over there numerous times, unannounced bringing my tenants, or prospective ones by, who, of course, wanted to see the place — and every time people have commented on the nice smell of the place. Go figure!

    Daniel, I’m just curious…..do you, and folks here generally think that National Geographic is a liberal conspiracy magazine?

  42. Daniel
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Monica – I look forward to talking to you.

    BTW – I, for one, do not think of NG as a liberal consp. mag.

  43. Caty
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get all this stuff about National Geographic. Could someone explain?

  44. Posted February 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Everyone knows that liberals don’t take baths. That’s probably why they can’t smell the manure pile.

    Who said that NG was a liberal magazine?

  45. Daniel
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    not me…

    I was perplexed the the question too.

  46. Posted February 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    It appears that you all can now peruse the informative pamphlet on DIY goat slaughtering.

    Remember, the goat must be killed in a manner consistent with your family’s beliefs. That is, if you are trailer trash, then you are allowed to drag it behind your truck until it’s dead.

  47. Posted February 17, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I can’t make it tonight, as I’m home with my daughter, but the big City Council meeting on chicken ownership is tonight. I’m hoping that maybe someone who’s there will leave comment later, or, better yet, send a photo of chickens running amok through the Council chambers and members of our City Council run for their lives.

  48. Posted February 17, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I have to say, I have been to the Thomason’s at least half a dozen times and never smelled any “stench” near the manure pile. However, I’ve smelled many a stench in my neighborhood when weeding where my neighbor’s cat defecates and when stepping in dog turds. I fail to see how this is any more of a nuisance than a barking dog which we accept as a matter of course in the city. I’ve seen the chickens and the goats — they are simply no big deal and very unobtrusive. How bout living next door to three Presa Canarios? Now *that* would be something to complain about!

  49. Posted February 17, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I spoke and several others from the Ypsi 2020 Task Force spoke about the importance of safe local food and the role that urban animal husbandry can play when properly managed. Amanda Edmonds from Growing Hope presented a host of important statistics about the dearth of fresh food available in the city to low-income residents. A handout was provided (3 pages, single spaced) of various cities of all sizes that permit small holdings of animals — it was an impressive list, cities of every size from Chicago on down to little towns in Indiana and Pennsylvania, from coast to coast, that permit farm animals in town. As Amanda pointed out, generally speaking, ordinances run the gamut from permissive to restrictive but that, having passed, the practice generally becomes a non-issue because in fact, very few problems are ever encountered. I spoke to the fact that there are many organizations that are knowledgeable and experienced who can offer assistance, such as beekeeping clubs like SEMBA (SE Michigan Beekeepers Association). Every municipality in the area except Ypsilanti allows beekeeping — a fact of which certain Ann Arbor city councilors were unaware due to the complete LACK of problems associated with keeping bees in town. Mayor Schreiber proposed that the dog licensing ordinance simply be expanded to include small holdings of bees and chickens, to operate within the complaint process already in place for nuisance pets. I suggest that we call on our city councilors to display positive leadership on this issue whose time has clearly arrived!

  50. Daniel
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    The city council passed a proposed amendment to the “animal” ordinance – more or less affirming that their ordinance doesn’t conflict with the RTFA. To a degree strengthening the ordinance – hooray…!

    I would support a ordinance change similar to that of Ann Arbor – limit the number or whatever animals are permitted and make an stipulation of neighbor approval and have reasonable oversight of compliance.

    Mark: I considered bringing a few chickens – but I decided against it.

  51. monica
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Well the reason that I mention National Geographic is I’m not sure just what all this forum considers a liberal conspiracy ; ). I think Mark has spent a lot of time covering things related to transition… you will find if you peruse National Geographic that their staff seem to believe as evidenced by the material they present that peak oil, (and other resources)… and global warming are real and vivid concerns for all of us.

    Urban farming is happening nationally and worldwide as a response to these problems…because some of the best thinking on this suggests that urban environments need to get busy growing food so that it is locally available, and that we need to get about pioneering and refining sustainable practices as we do this. Our urban environments are totally dependent now on food from all over the world. Just try to go to your markets and ‘buy local’ for your meals and you’ll realize what a challenge it is. The analyses of current food sources says we are very much at risk right now. And, folks who study global warming say that even if we didn’t have the concern of peak oil, just to avert getting to a “no return” place on global warming… most of the oil that IS available still, should be left in the ground as we can’t afford to use it — it would tip us over a critical level on the “carbon” foot print issue.

    So, in other words, we need to ‘get local’ as fast as we can. This also is good for the environment in countless other ways. It means using land nearby, rather than sprawling further… and enriching land via sustainable, organic practices and learning together about this as fast as possible. Because we largely as a population, no longer know how to grow our food, or raise animals…. we’ve relied upon large agribusiness systems to provide our food (while degrading the environment and the quality of the food) as well as requiring the shipping of it over vast distances. (I’d rather we save that fuel for heat in winter if its limited, wouldn’t you?)

    In a coming future where we have less available fuel, as well as a need to restore the environment… we need to learn as communities how to be more self sustaining with food/growing/and farming in all aspects of this.

    Lots of young adults are aware of this… and something like what Peter is doing becomes a regional model offering folks to learn and gain experience or a start at heading in this new direction. “Progressive” Ann Arbor doesn’t have anything comparable to what Peter is doing… Ypsilanti is breaking new territory for Michigan. This is why Peter has become ‘a celebrity’ and why film crews show up to document what he’s doing…. And Daniel, your place is right next door – a great spot to be!

    I’m jealous.

  52. Posted February 17, 2009 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get it. If you want to farm, buy some land and farm. Don’t try to grow shit in 10 square feet of poisoned earth that spends most of it’s time in shadow.

  53. Daniel
    Posted February 18, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Monica, anytime you want to step and make an offer on my house let me know. You have my number.

  54. monica
    Posted February 18, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Well Daniel, I look forward to talking with you!

    I have to say that crossed my mind… but like Peter, I’m afraid that I wouldn’t be able to as I have my resources already tied up in my home which, has significantly lost value so much so that I couldn’t go anywhere even if I wanted or needed to……given that I’m likely to be living on a block with a bunch of houses in foreclosure with our new economic situation. I believe that Steve’s lovely house down the street has an accepted offer on it for less than 50k which would be in my comparables. And there are at least 3 other houses now vacant that are at high risk of ended up similarly….not to mention a block over on Adams St and several houses there..on that slippery slope. We’d have to swap, and I doubt you’d go for that ; )

  55. Posted February 21, 2009 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    It is so funny to me that I am talked about as being a “liberal!” A “progressive conservative” perhaps. Most “liberals” don’t belong to the NRA or voted for McCain. And I certainly don’t consider myself a celebrity – nor remember asking Daniel such an odd question – except that my family and my animals and my students seem to like to see me. Since Dude has obviously never been here I won’t even respond to his silly comments except to say that I do not slaughter goats here. My last two extras were donated to Domino’s Petting Farm. I find it odd that some people simply join forums like this anonymously just to snipe at others and never make any substantive positive contributions to the conversation. By the way, in case you did not know, the link on your name goes directly to “adult” websites instead of identifying who you really are.

    On the issue of manure and smell, even if I did not own animals who provide us with it, I could, at some expense, simply haul it in from somewhere else and let it sit here and compost it then add it in to our gardens. How would that be any different? I don’t think there are any laws against having compost – are there?

    The council did not pass the amendment that includes the RTFA language – for what it’s worth – yet. It requires another public hearing – more than we got three years ago when we tried to introduce an amendment according to the city guidelines and it was rushed to a “no” vote by then Mayor Farmer who ignored the required due process. The current ordinance will probably be amended but, more importantly, the mayor has asked that the city staff – I don’t know who – look into revising the ordinance to allow other animals. The suggestion I made to him is that we establish a citizens’ committee, either ad hoc or as a new urban agriculture commission, to really study the issues and make recommendations. Our appeal of Judge Tabbey’s decision could take a year or more so, in the meantime, I hope that the community discussion and recommendations to council result in a more progressive policy.

    As for the results of my research, it is ongoing. I am currently using some of it with one of my graduate classes to assist a Detroit non-profit redevelop a large area near the Eastern Market. Among other things, they want to use a large piece of vacant property as an urban farm. This would augment the subsidized and market rate housing they will be building and become a way of attracting people to the area much in the way it is happening here in Ypsilanti.

    Daniel, as for putting your backyard to use as gardening space, we are expanding our gardens and using other yards this year in our efforts to establish an urban CSA. You are welcome to join and to share in the benefits!

  56. Posted February 21, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    You would get more respect if you would slaughter your goats in your front yard.

  57. Posted February 21, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    you sir, might get more respect if you would identify yourself and actually know what you are talking about.

  58. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    His goal is to feel powerful by provoking people to anger on a blog and laugh about their being helpless to do anything about it.

  59. Posted February 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I know what I’m talking about. I’ve lived next to plenty of people that keep animals. Some take good care of them. Some don’t and I have found that it’s split pretty evenly between the two.

    That being said, I still have never seen any of them slaughter livestock in their front yard. I would like to see this. I’m sure that you would make the papers.

  60. Scott K
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    [comment removed at request of Scott K]

  61. Scott K
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    [comment removed at request of Scott K]

  62. Scott K
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Mark, please delete my two comments I made this morning. My wife is concerned it will cause strained relations with my neighbors.

    Thank you

  63. Posted February 22, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, Scott, no matter what you will be wrong, or at least be seen as a party pooper when, in fact, you are making a completely reasonable statement. Things like that should be left to the political process. I guess certain people believe that the political process is merely an inconvenience.

  64. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I assume neither of you guys ever drive over the speed limit, since, in a law-abiding democratic society, you can go through the political process to increase the speed limit to whatever you want it to be.

  65. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I also feel like, if we’re going to complain about our neighbors’ animals, we should start with dogs. Why do you need a dog in the city? It doesn’t produce anything but shit, noise, and dog bites. You don’t need them to guard your house, because we have the police for that, or a burgler alarm if you’re one of those paranoid freaks who thinks the government might be not 100% reliable to take care of all your problems for you. And we obviously don’t need dogs to protect our other animals from preditors, since we’re not supposed to have other animals in the first place. If you want a dog, move to a farm where they can bark all they want and run free. This is a city for heaven’s sake.

  66. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Dogs are also documented carriers of rabies, and have been known to bite small children in the face. The pro-rabies, anti-children dog fanatic extremists out there don’t want you to know that.

  67. Posted February 22, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    1 or 2 dogs is ok. 10 dogs is not. Also, shitty dog owners are not fine. This is just like 1 or 2 chickens are ok, 40 chickens and 6 goats on a spot the size of a sandbox is just stupid.

    Also, I never drive over the speed limit because it’s dangerous to myself and other drivers, wastes gas and I’ll get a ticket that I can’t afford to pay. I also stop at stop signs, which you don’t, I’m sure.

    Also, I’m sorry to tell you, that speed limits are set by the political process. If you don’t like them, find a candidate that will support raising them and vite him/her in.

  68. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I imagine, dude, that the one downside to being a troll no one here knows is the total lack of credibility regarding your unverifyable self-descriptions. Though it probably doesn’t bother you too much, seeing as how folks still bite anyway.

  69. Posted February 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I only said that I follow traffic rules. What’s weird about that? Does that make me into ytown 2?

  70. nammeroo
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Don’t need dogs in the city?!!! Are you nuts?

    I miss my old dog dearly. A little terrier mutt mix, we got him from the Humane Society (a ‘reformed’ stray). He was an inside dog at night, but enjoyed watching the passing scene in our front yard during the day (in good weather). We fixed him up with a small house (in case it rained), and he thought he was a king.

    Despite the fact that his chain did not allow him to reach the sidewalk (at least two-feet back for his safety), and despite the fact that his mild bark concealed a pacifist heart – he proved to be a great watchdog. We never had anything stolen while he was out there, and even for six months after he passed on from old age.

    It was only after we made the mistake of removing his house and chain from the yard that we suddenly experienced a rash of petty thefts (bike, ladder, etc.).

    I’m not sure how good the chickens will be at guarding the yard, but I surely miss the dog!

  71. ZP
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m Scott K’s neighbor and I just got some hens. I’m a little surprised but I understand his frustration. This is a new (dare I say) movement & I’m not sure any of us knows what to make of it yet. I think it shocks people’s sensibilities to see a chicken outside of a farmyard but it needn’t be so.

    My wife & I knew that getting chickens might be provocative but we decided to do it anyway. We knew it was not exactly legal but we elected to do it anyway. These animals are sweet, quiet & unassuming. Plus . . . they LAY EGGS!!!

    We actually discussed this with our neighbors (including Scott & his wife) many months before we got the chickens and they all said OK. We view this as a way to continue to build community as an extension of our neighborhood composting and cooperative gardening. We got a few hens and we intend to keep it very small-scale. Some of our neighbors have even started planning to get their own small flocks.

    Previous posters have said – if you want chickens buy a farm – but we’re trying to move beyond that limited viewpoint. We want to start redefining what food production means. We want to look at what self reliance means and start nudging our consumerist suburbia back to a connection with the natural world. It’s not perfect I agree, but it’s a start.

    I’ve obviously gotta take my neighbor some eggs.

  72. Posted February 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to you ZP and a big welcome to your chicks! Good for you – and your neighbors!

  73. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    nameroo, I think BA was being sarcastic.

    It seems like city council just thinks it’s funny.

  74. nammeroo
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I figured that, Ol’E – it was just an excuse to tell a story about my dog. How many opportunities do you get to do that, anyway?

  75. Posted February 23, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Our Borgle (Border Collie – Beagle) Minny, is a real asset here. She warns us about possible intruders, herds chickens and goats, plays with our free range rabbits, and provides endless hours of fun and companionship. On more than one occasion she has driven away burglars.

  76. Scott K
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    ZP, I have no issue with the chickens. Just commentary on the principal of the matter not yet being legal. I could care less about composting, self sufficiency or carbon footprints and the like. We have differing opinions, so be it. The city seems to busy issuing fraudulent invoices in shovelgate anyway so by the time they get their head out of their asses about that the chickens will be legal and it is all a moot point.

    Make peace and move on?

  77. ZP
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Yes indeed, I’m OK you’re OK.

    To be honest I really want to have a real farm – but I can’t afford to do it at this point. We’re going to hold off on following in Peter’s footsteps until we have little more land. I also think I might choose sheep over goats.

    One thing’s for sure . . . there’s no way that everyone is ever going to agree on all of this. We all have our own idealized version of our homes & neighorhoods and many of them are bound to clash.

    I think that a functional community must be built on equal parts constructive dialogue and just sucking it up and tolerating our neighbors.

  78. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Markmaynard.com (TM). Helping neighbors talk to one another since 2002:

    To Blog or Not To Blog

    It occurred to me earlier this evening, as I laid on my couch watching the TV show “Big Brother,” that it’s much easier to sit and watch television than it is to create fresh content for a weblog. In spite of that fact, I felt it necessary to force myself to share a few things tonight, while they’re still fresh in my mind.

    Thank you Mark, for your year’s of unease. I’ll only add that I’m giving up drinking for Lent, and tonight I’m making hey while the sun shines…

  79. Posted March 9, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I am making the following suggestion in light of the 2nd vote by the city council on the amended version of the existing city animal control ordinance – the amendment just adds some language deferring to the RTFA – and Mayor Schreiber’s openness to additional rewriting of the ordinance that would allow chickens, bees, and possibly goats. Please consider participating in a citizens’ committee that would be formed either ad hoc or more formally as a commission to advise council and the mayor on issues related to urban agriculture. We hope to see this kind of advisory group become a reality well before council actually tries to rewrite the ordinance or just relies on city staff and city attorneys for its content.

    Our appeal of Ypsilanti v. Thomason is underway, updates can be found at- http://thomasonfamilyfarm.blogspot.com
    Also, please visit http://indiedibles.com/ they are the group that is documenting Southeastern Michigan urban farming efforts. They expect to have their first podcast out this month featuring Ypsilanti’s urban farming group!

  80. Amanda
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    folks, you coming out to the ypsi urban farmer breakfast tomorrow morning? 8:30-10:00 am at bombadills– saturday, march 28… we did it on the weekend this time for people who can’t make our 7 am monday mornings… if you want to get the notices about this and other fun growing hopeness– join our email list… http://www.growinghope.net to do so…

  81. Meta
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    There’s an good article on Thomason at the Trumbullplex group in Detroit in the new Metro Times:


  82. allergic to bees guy
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    My nieghbor keeps bees and there are tons of them flying around our backyard. I have kids and other family members who will have bad things happen to them if stung. Is it still unacceptable in city limits of Ypsilanti to keep bees?

  83. E Ted Hartly
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I think I figured out why we haven’t been hearing so much from our favorite libertarian Brackache lately.


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