- September 26, 2012
WINTER GARDEN Two years ago, a student in Julia Ugartechea’s kindergarten class stumbled across a picture of a peach in a book she was reading. The girl asked Ugartechea what it was a picture of, and Ugartechea told her it was peach.
“Don’t those come in plastic cups?” was the girl’s response.
The incident made Ugartechea realize the importance of teaching children about the origins of their food.
“In children’s minds nowadays, unless they’re taught or told from experience where food comes from, they just think it comes from Publix in a plastic container,” Ugartechea said.
The hope to educate people, especially children, about where their food comes from is one of the driving forces for the Winter Garden Chicken Club, started by Jessica Stone and her three children — Emily, 6; Madelynn, 9; and Dallas, 2. The group hopes to make it legal to keep backyard chickens — sometimes referred to as urban chickens — in Winter Garden.
Neither Stone nor Ugartechea grew up raising chickens, but that doesn’t lessen their desire to raise them now.
“I just think it would be really fun and educational for my kids,” Stone said.
She became interested in raising chickens when she moved to a home in Winter Garden that was not in a homeowners association. When she began to explore the ordinances in Winter Garden, she found she could not raise chickens in her backyard, because the coop could not sit 100 feet away from other buildings.
Recently, she and her family met someone who has backyard chickens. When her kids asked why they couldn’t have chickens, she couldn’t come up with a good explanation, other than the city doesn’t allow it.
She would like to raise hens rather than roosters, who get the reputation for being loud.
She created the Winter Garden Chicken Club and plans to attend an upcoming commission meeting to present the idea. The commissioners currently are looking into ordinances from cities that allow backyard chickens.
Stone and Ugartechea took a class on raising chickens through the UF Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences extension office in Orange County. The Stone children also have researched facts about chickens. Chickens eat weeds in grass, slurping up grass like spaghetti. And they are comforting, just like other pets.
“They’re soft and feathery,” said Madelynn, who is working on writing a letter to the city of Winter Garden, expressing her interest in raising chickens.
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected]
Cities around America are starting chicken-keeping programs. Many of these programs allow homeowners associations to supersede city rules if they do not want chickens in their neighborhood.
Maitland has an ordinance designed to allow residents to keep backyard chickens.
Here are the basics of the program:
West Orange County includes several municipalities, so make sure you know your ordinances before setting up your coop.
UNINCORPORATED ORANGE COUNTY: Backyard chickens are not allowed. To raise poultry, your lot must be more than 100 feet from residentially zoned districts.
WINTER GARDEN: Chickens raised within city limits must be in a sanitary, escape-proof enclosure and more than 100 feet from the nearest building, church or house. However, the city is looking into Maitland’s ordinance, as the city has a program that allows residents to get permits to have backyard chickens. The discussion will continue at an upcoming commission meeting.
OCOEE: You can have chickens; however, chickens, as well as fowl and other barnyard animals in residential areas, must not be a nuisance. If you receive three separate complaints from the city, the city manager or the police department in a 30-day period, the chickens are considered a nuisance.
OAKLAND: To raise chickens in a single-family residential district, you must receive a special exception from the Town of Oakland. Chickens must be securely fenced in and have a setback of 100 feet between any property lines and the building used to house the animals. The lot is required to be a minimum of 10 contiguous acres in order to keep chickens.
TOWN OF WINDERMERE: Poultry is prohibited in all districts.