Spokane Food Policy Blog May 2017

What food policy in Spokane means for you

Urban Livestock and Market Gardening in the City of Spokane

Pat Munts, WSU Spokane County Extension’s urban agriculture coordinator


*SFPC Blog May 12, 2017

How cool would it be if you could walk down the street in your Spokane neighborhood and buy vegetables fruit and flowers from your neighbor who grew them right in their back yard? It can’t be fresher than that. Thanks to the city’s forward thinking City Council that is entirely possible in the City of Spokane. So is keeping small urban goats, sheep and pigs.

In March of 2014, The City of Spokane established two urban agriculture ordinances to help the city’s residents expand their ability to grow food in the urban environment. The Urban Market Garden Ordinance allows residents to establish market gardens for growing fruits, vegetables, and horticultural, viticulture and floricultural products in residentially zoned areas of the city and then sell that produce to their neighbors (“Market garden” shall mean a small-scale business that grows agricultural products that are sold by the operator of the garden on the same property where the agricultural products are grown.”) https://my.spokanecity.org/smc/?Section=17C.380.010

Households can establish up to a 6,000 square-foot garden for the first 21,780 square feet (half an acre) of lot space and add an additional 2,000 for each additional 21,780 square feet of lot space. The garden operator must reside on the same property where the agricultural products are grown. The garden operator may also sell eggs from the garden site to neighbors. See the note on keeping chickens below. Market gardeners are not required to have a city business license. Check out the ordinance at: https://my.spokanecity.org/projects/urban-farming/

Urban market gardeners can sell their produce straight from the garden. If they want to prepare any value-added products from their production, they are required to obtain all necessary city, county and state licenses to do so. Check out the Washington Department of Agriculture’s Direct Marketing Handbook at: http://agr.wa.gov/marketing/smallfarm/greenbook/ for the rules and regulations.

The Urban Small Livestock Ordinance allows residents to keep goats, pigs and sheep under 150 pounds and less than three feet at the shoulder in most land use zones in the city of Spokane ( permitted outright in the RA, RSF, RTF, RMF, and RHD zones and any zone that permits dwelling units). Residents can have one small livestock per 2,500 square feet of total lot size. This means on a 9,000 square-foot lot you could have three goats, pigs or sheep.  The weight limit means that only smaller breeds of these animals will fit the ordinances. One of the reasons for this is that large livestock can be very strong and destructive in the smaller-scale urban environment. Any male small livestock must be neutered.

Anyone wishing to keep small livestock is required to be certified through the WSU Spokane County Extension’s urban agriculture program. The purpose of the class is to make sure that people understand the rules for keeping livestock and how to handle such issues as  appropriate shelter, food,  veterinarian care (including rabies and other vaccinations when appropriate), breeding, animal waste disposal, and potential hazards related to the use of domestic animal and livestock waste in composting, potential sources of zoonotic and enteric diseases, routes of transmission,  methods of preventing human illness diseases, and  noise and odor control. The classes are scheduled about three times a year. To check when the next class is go to http://extension.wsu.edu/spokane/ and check the upcoming events section on the right-hand side of the page. The cost for the class is $20 per household at the same address. WSU Extension strongly encourages people to involve all family members in taking part in the program.

Chickens are allowed in residential zones of the city but a certification class is not necessary. A resident can have one bird for every 1,000 square feet of lot size. Roosters are not allowed. WSU Extension offers informational classes on keeping chickens usually in the spring.

The number of small livestock kept by a resident is independent of the number of household pets (dogs and cats) that can be kept on a residential lot in the city. Currently a homeowner can keep an aggregate of four dogs and cats on a residential lot. Check out the ordinance at: https://my.spokanecity.org/smc/?Section=17c.310.115

Keeping small urban livestock is very different from the methods used to keep the same critters in the rural environment. In the urban area, it is important to have quiet animals that don’t disturb neighbors (noise ordinances) and to keep manure cleaned up at all times (odor abatement ordinance).  This means you will have to select animals carefully. In most cases, you will need to keep two goats or sheep as these animals are herd animals that depend on each other for security. They can be very noisy if they don’t have a buddy.

Managing manure odor will mean moving the manure off your lot frequently. In most cases, you can’t compost all the manure that will be generated fast enough for garden use. There is a network of folks developing in the city that can help put manure producers in touch with people who want the manure for gardens.

Fencing, proper shelter and access to food and water are all important elements of keeping urban livestock. Fences are important not only to keep the animals in your yard but also to keep dogs and other predators out. Goats particularly are very agile and are considered escape artists if they aren’t fenced in well. Your shelter structure will also need to have room to store hay and grain. Structures come under the definitions in the city’s building codes. A structure over 200 square feet will need a building permit and there are lot line setbacks that will need to be taken into account. If you want to milk your goats, you will need to breed your animals periodically to keep the milk flowing. You will also need to be familiar with proper milk handling procedures to reduce the potential of illness. Milk produced in a home environment cannot be sold or given away.

For more information or questions please contact:

Pat Munts, WSU Spokane County Extension’s urban agriculture coordinator. 509 477 2173 or pmunts@spokanecounty.org

Last SFPC Blog: http://spokanefoodpolicy.org/spokane-food-policy-blog/








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