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'Allow us to take control of our health' | Stockton now allows residents to own chickens, ducks and more

As more people are picking up gardening amid the pandemic, the City of Stockton passed a new law that would allow residents to own chickens, ducks, and bees.

STOCKTON, Calif. — More people are calling to see if they could keep chickens or bees in their home amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Stockton's permit center. 

Now they can.

Stockton's city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to update the city's laws to give its residents the ability to do more urban farming. 

The new Urban Agriculture Ordinance allows some residents to have chickens, ducks, or bees, but roosters aren't included. The new law also allows for more fruit and produce stands in convenience stores in areas considered to be "food deserts."

“This new ordinance is very timely,” Assistant Director of Economic Development Janice Miller said in a news release. “Many people recently took up gardening or growing a few fruits and vegetables during this stay-at-home period.” 

However, there are restrictions on the new agriculture ordinance. 

Residents can only own four chickens if their property is at least 5,000 feet. All chickens and ducks have to be confined in the enclosure when no one is available to respond to the birds immediately. And the birds and ducks have to be kept away at least 20 feet away from the nearest neighbor's home.  

It is also still against the law to slaughter live chickens or ducks at residentially zoned lots, according to the new law's restrictions.

The Puentes Boggs Tract Community Farm is in the shadow of the Port of Stockton. This is the place that it's OK to lay an egg.

"So, we have brown, white, blue, and green eggs," said Clifton Maxwell, Puentes Tract Community Farm Manager, collecting eggs from a chicken coop.

This agricultural oasis has made it its mission to improve the health and well-being of urban, low-income communities for 10 years. With the passage of Stockton's Urban Ag Ordinance, it makes what they've accomplished more mainstream.

"It's really important to allow us to take control of our health by producing our own food and to get back in the right relationship with our home ecosystems by being able to go right in our backyard, front yard, and start growing food," added Maxwell.

Maxwell says chickens can lay more than 200 eggs a year and could help turn a compost pile into rich soil. Raising chickens also takes work.

"So, you're going to be doing it every day, every morning, every night. And, yeah, the health of these animals is tied to your constant checking on them."

If you want to see raising chickens is done first hand, Puentes has a farm stand open from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. at 466 S Ventura Avenue. Click here for more information.

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