Reinventing Springfield: Urban Ag News4Jax

March 25, 2012 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Much ado about Urban Ag has been made lately here in Jacksonville. Goats being confiscated, Chicken wars, heavy fines etc. Where did all the hubbub come from? It wasn't this way in Jacksonville just a generation ago. Join us after the jump for Springfield's push to open up the past so that we can step forward into the future! Urban Agriculture is alive and well here in Jacksonville.



Many many families here on the first coast had deep roots to backyard vegetable gardens, rabbits were fairly common and most people knew someone who had hens laying chickens somewhere in the neighborhood.

In fact up until 30 years ago, these things were done by right as just part of the natural daily life of the city.

However as modernity expanded to the rural suburbs surrounding the city like Mandarin and the deep westside, regulations and policies began to be implemented whose vagueness was rooted in the fact that regular small scale family agriculture was taken for granted as being exempt.

Thirty years later, not so much.

Take for example the issue of keeping a hen in the backyard to supply the family with fresh eggs.

In Jacksonville it is illegal to just buy a chicken and let her start laying.  And it comes with a stiff fine.  A seriously stiff one.

Owning a chicken requires a permit, which requires a fee.

The fee for allowing farm animals was originally set for people who wanted to keep a horse.  When the fee was set, the amount was created with a Horse and stable in mind.

Since then, hens have become less and the only fee which allows them to be legally placed in your backyard is the old one set aside for horses.

That fee is 750 dollars.

Every Year.

Thats a hell of a lot of eggs to make up even slightly for the egregious amount that you have to spend.

The alternative is simply to go guerrilla (like almost everyone in the city has) and risk fines of thousands of dollars.

Similar codes and city policies have pushed urban aquaculture, community gardens, rooftop gardens, and aquaculture all but impossible for the regular family ever to be able to afford.

Springfield is working on changing that----at least for the springfield neighborhood.



Many many families here on the first coast had deep roots to backyard vegetable gardens, rabbits were fairly common and most people knew someone who had hens laying chickens somewhere in the neighborhood.

In fact up until 30 years ago, these things were done by right as just part of the natural daily life of the city.

However as modernity expanded to the rural suburbs surrounding the city like Mandarin and the deep westside, regulations and policies began to be implemented whose vagueness was rooted in the fact that regular small scale family agriculture was taken for granted as being exempt.

Thirty years later, not so much.

Take for example the issue of keeping a hen in the backyard to supply the family with fresh eggs.

In Jacksonville it is illegal to just buy a chicken and let her start laying.  And it comes with a stiff fine.  A seriously stiff one.

Owning a chicken requires a permit, which requires a fee.

The fee for allowing farm animals was originally set for people who wanted to keep a horse.  When the fee was set, the amount was created with a Horse and stable in mind.

Since then, hens have become less and the only fee which allows them to be legally placed in your backyard is the old one set aside for horses.

That fee is 750 dollars.

Every Year.

Thats a hell of a lot of eggs to make up even slightly for the egregious amount that you have to spend.

The alternative is simply to go guerrilla (like almost everyone in the city has) and risk fines of thousands of dollars.

Similar codes and city policies have pushed urban aquaculture, community gardens, rooftop gardens, and aquaculture all but impossible for the regular family ever to be able to afford.

Springfield is working on changing that----at least for the springfield neighborhood.Website for Sustainable Springfield

Learn more about Springfield's History

Springfield's Incredible Warehouse District, Then and Now

Story by Stephen Dare