CLUCK, CLUCK, BUZZZZZZ
Sparks welcomes back backyard chickens and bees.
WRITTEN BY ERIN MEYERING
ILLUSTRATION BY ALANNA MCDANIEL
Lovers of backyard chickens and beehives (and honey) received good news in October 2015 when Sparks City Council members unanimously voted to allow these creatures in certain neighborhoods of the city for the first time in more than 10 years. The ordinance and its approval were four years in the making.
Rules of the roost
Community members not living in planned residential developments (such as Wingfield Springs, D’Andrea, and others) already have begun raising chickens and bees, the new set of regulations.
Roosters are prohibited, and the number of chickens allowed is based on the size of the property. Beehives are permitted in backyards but restricted to two per parcel. Participants in urban agriculture, which includes possession of chickens and bees, also are subject to inspections upon neighborhood complaints.
Sparks local Cathy Logan currently is building a new chicken coop and will soon welcome several chickens as well as bees.
“The length of the backyard and side yard will be sectioned off for the chicken run,” Logan says. “This will keep the chickens out of the main garden area and protected from predators.”
She says she’ll use the fresh eggs in her own home and share them with those around her. Logan also is planning on using the egg shells as calcium for plants, chicken feed, or even her own consumption, wasting nothing.
Like Logan, many citizens, especially those who attended the public meeting in October, expressed support for urban agriculture in Sparks. Several attendees had been chicken owners and described how important the birds had been to their own well-being and their children’s knowledge of where their food comes from.
Supporters of the new ordinance also claim chickens are no messier, smellier, or louder than any other pet/animal, as long as they are cared for properly.
“No one wants a nuisance in their own backyard,” says Pawl Hollis, owner of Rail City Garden Center in Sparks.
People just need to follow good husbandry practices when acquiring any new animal, Hollis says. He has been a leading supporter in moving the ordinance toward approval. Rail City Garden Center carries everything folks need to get started raising chickens or keeping bees, including several heritage chicken breeds.
It’s clear that by making their voices heard, Sparks residents are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to propelling the area’s food movement.
Erin Meyering is the associate editor of edible Reno-Tahoe magazine. She attended the city meeting where the ordinance was approved and was taken aback by how passionate locals were about raising chickens and keeping bees.