Changes intended to bring Oklahoma City ordinances in line with trends favoring locally grown food and urban farming advanced Tuesday after the city council took comments from residents.
Proposals include a measure to allow city residents to keep up to six egg-laying hens in the back yard. Other measures would promote gardening, composting and rainwater conservation.
The council is set to vote on the proposals Dec. 31.
Resident Shauna Lawyer Struby told the council that expanded opportunities for urban agriculture could help address high poverty rates and cuts in federal food support programs.
“For low-income people, this is a way to have food security,” she said.
Food security is an issue of particular interest in northeast Oklahoma City, characterized as a “food desert” because grocery stores have moved out, reducing residents' access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Besides allowing chickens, the proposals would clarify and update ordinances regarding:
• Compost, which would be limited to grass, leaves, banana peels and the like. Waste such as dairy products and meat bones would still be considered trash and would be forbidden.
• Greenhouses and “hoop” houses — structures designed to extend the growing season — which would be allowed in backyards in many circumstances.