Urban Farmers vs. Neighbors: Which Side of the Fence Are You On?

Urban chickens in a back yard coop Urban farming is growing in popularity, but some neighbors don't like the noise. Image: mikespics/iStockphoto

Urban farmers who raise and slaughter their own food are arguing with neighbors who think urban amateurs shouldn’t be whacking poultry. What do you think?

A Hatfield-McCoy feud is growing in Oakland, Calif., between urban farmers raising chicks, ducks, and geese, and neighbors who want to stop the Ma Kettles next door from raising barnyard animals in their back yards.

Neighbors Opposed to Backyard Slaughter wants the city to prohibit backyard farmers from raising livestock on their urban and suburban property. The group sites “unnecessary suffering on the part of backyard poultry and other food animals,” and unnecessary suffering on the part of neighbors who must listen to the panicked squeals, grunts, and gobbles of slaughtered animals.

As it is, keeping backyard chickens for eggs and fertilizer is growing in popularity, right along with other sustainable pasttimes like edible gardening and using sheep to mow your lawn.

Of course, the urban farmers are defending their “right” to feed themselves and the urban poor with food they grow and raise.

Conspicuously absent from the debate is a discussion of property values. That’s what we’re here for.

When I tried to sell my suburban Virginia home, the squawks resounding from my neighbor’s chicken coop didn’t help. Each time a potential buyer pulled up, her rooster decided to crow. On the other hand, I’m an animal lover.

So we’re asking: Would you buy a home next to urban farmers? Would it affect the price you’d be willing to pay?