Across the country, more and more people are paying attention to where their food comes from and how it is produced. This in turn has led to increased citizen interest in participating in their own local food production, with an emphasis on food and products that are grown organically, locally, and sustainably. Urban agriculture or “backyard farming” has grown in popularity around the country and over the past several years a number of Ashland residents have converted lawns to planting beds, and have explored opportunities to keep “micro-livestock” animals such as chickens, rabbits, pygmy goats, bees and other food producing animals on their properties.
In September of 2013 a new city ordinance went into effect which expanded opportunities for keeping micro-livestock suitable for backyard food production within the Ashland city limits. The City regulations relating to the number and type of animals permitted are outlined in the municipal code section on the Keeping of Animals (Chapter 9.08.040). The City requirements for the location and construction of structures that house micro-livestock is part of the accessory buildings and structures section of the municipal code (Chapter 18.68.140).
In approving these new regulations the City Council found that honeybees can be maintained within populated areas without causing a nuisance if the bees are properly located and carefully managed. To maintain bee hives within the City a number of requirements apply including a limitation on the number of hives allowed based on the size of the property, requirements for a flyway barrier, on-site water, and general hive maintenance. To ensure beekeepers are aware of these requirements all beekeepers must register the number and location of any bee hives they maintain within the City of Ashland through the no-cost Beekeeping Registry (www.ashland.or.us/beekeeping).