Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Goat Babies!

Our lovely goat Dasha gave birth to 3 beautiful babies this afternoon. We could tell that Dasha was likely to go into labor earlier in the day, but we expected her to kid at night (as she has done in the past). Brian and I left for 2.5 hours to do a gardening activity, and when we returned home we found the 3 babies!

Dairy goats need to be bred periodically in order to maintain their milk production. A Nigerian Dwarf goat's lactation cycle is around 300 days. The gestation period is 5 months, and the babies need to be nursing for the first 2 months of the 300 day lactation. Given all those numbers, we figure that we need to breed each of our two goats about every 16 months in order to keep a steady flow off milk for our household. So, around every 8 months or so, we welcome 1-3 new goat babies!

The babies will stay with their mom until they are 8 weeks old, and then they will be re-homed. We feel confident that they'll find wonderful homes!

The light-colored girl, brown eyes.

The dark-colored girl (with a white spot on her head and chest!), brown eyes.

The boy, with blue eyes.

The light-colored girl, stretching her long legs...

...and showing off her beautiful markings!

The dark-colored girl nursing...

...and saying hello.

The boy getting some love from his mom...
...and then falling asleep on his feet.

The baby Dwarf goats are quite little -- they're smaller than a chicken!

Our neighbors came by to visit the babies. Peaberry is wondering why no one is paying attention to her (she's usually the center of attention).

Dasha and her 3 kids.
(Thanks to Brian Kraft Photography for the photos.)

District 8 Candidates' Positions on FPA Ordinance

The race for the District 8 City Council seat has 36 (or so, it's hard to keep track) people running as write-in candidates. Some of the residents of District 8 are understandably overwhelmed by the choices. A few Sustainable Food Denver supporters have asked me to survey the candidates for their position on the proposed Food-Producing Animals ordinance. 

The new District 8 councilperson will not be seated until mid-July, and the FPA ordinance is currently scheduled for a vote on June 13th. However, even though the candidates will not have the opportunity to vote on the ordinance, their position is still important to many District 8 constituents.

I emailed every candidate who had an email address listed on the city elections website. The email went out on Monday afternoon. Below are the responses I have received.

In Favor of FPA Ordinance

Titus Peterson (
     I completely support urban homesteading including the keeping of chickens, ducks and goats.  I spent a significant amount of time in Switzerland and Germany where almost everyone has a collection of animals that they keep as pets and to produce food.  They are an integral part of the garden. 

     With that said, as a practical matter, I don't know why there is any real permitting process for people who are in compliance with the law.  It seems as if, so long as you have the requisite space, you should be able to buy the animals like a dog or a cat and bring them home without having to ask permission first.  If you wanted to keep animals in excess of what is allowed or in a smaller space than what is provided by law maybe permitting is appropriate but I don't see why the involvement of the city is required otherwise.   I see no reason why "drakes" should not be permitted.  I can sort of understand roosters, maybe, although I don't find there crowing any more annoying than leaf blowers or the many other machine noises that assault us all day long.  I don't know if male piggy goats are as aggressive as regular goats but surely they are not as aggressive as pit bulls which are presently allowed in the city. 
     I hope this helps.  Keep up the good work.   

Therese-Marie O'Sullivan (
     In general I am in favor of the FPA ordinance and would vote for it.

Susan Whitehurst (
     Yes! I strongly believe in sustainable living in an urban setting. Bring it on. It will only improve the character of our neighborhoods. I'm urban. I'm sustainable. Let's do it.

Generally in Favor; with Concerns/Reservations

Warren Edson (
     I am in support of the FPA.  The amendments appear to address most potential noise and odor issues.  Is there a number where you can be reached where we can discuss the details?  I do have a few concerns about animal waste disposal but would also like to discuss expanding other areas. (Note from Sundari: I did follow up with Warren to try and set up a phone call for further discussion, but we haven't been able to connect yet.)

Penelope Zeller (
     (1st answer -- on Facebook pageGood question, complicated answer... I fully support FPA but am not completely satisfied with the proposed language in the upcoming ordinance. As we discussed at INC last meeting, the ordinance will likely need to pass as is because of the time frame, then citizens and Council will need to work on tweaking the language for a better ordinance for animals and people. There are too many specifics to write - character limited on facebook - so come to a Forum and we can discuss details.
     (Follow-up -- via emailThanks for your inquiry about this one topic.  In short, I am concerned about amount permeable ground for the welfare of the animals. Combined with the pet ordinance that allows 3 (sometimes) large dogs plus two goats, this might be a strain on a small lot. Since no notice to neighbors is neccessary for dog and cats in a home, I do not feel that neighbor notice should be required for chickens or goats. Just as most responsible pet owners obtain training for themselves and their pets, I think we need to look at potential basic farm education for urbanites. 
      (I worked my garndparent chicken farm as a kid - I am really concerned that some urbanites may have a romantic notion of the idea of fresh eggs and really not understand how much work is involved. Education is a key in my opinion.)
      There's much more, but I hope you understaind that this is one of many many topics to address in a very limited time. 
     Ultimately, no matter my own personal feelings, this and other topics are at the will of an informed constituenticy. For instance, I have a reputation of practicing research and outreach.  83 repondents to a survey about dog parks, or any issue for that matter, does not set the tone for a decision that affects 40,000+ residents.

Friday, April 22, 2011

City-Wide Chicken Open Houses (can you help?)

From Marsha, a member of Sustainable Food Denver...

Planning Meeting: Sunday, May 1st at 1:30pm
                            4074 Quince Street, Denver 80237

Open Houses: Sunday, May 8th from 2:00-4:00

Marsha wants to organize a bunch of Denver chicken owners to hold an "open house" (or maybe "open coop") event on Sunday, May 8th. The purposes of the event is to allow folks in different Denver neighborhoods to see backyard chickens up close, learn about their care, and see that chickens can be successfully raised in the city! This outreach is meant to help build public support for the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance, which will soon be up for a vote before City Council.

If you own chickens and can volunteer to be a site for an Open House, contact Marsha at:

and let her know. If you can come to the planning meeting ahead of the Open House, that's terrific. Each Open House site will have a petition that guests can sign to indicate their support for the Food Producing Animals ordinance, as well as a brochure that describes the ordinance. The Open Houses will be announced to the Denver Post and various neighborhood groups.

If you're willing to open your backyard to your neighbors for a couple of hours, please contact Marsha. Let's do everything we can to raise awareness about this issue, and build even more community support for the Food Producing Animals ordinance!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Endorsements, and Why Local Politics Matter (a lot) if You Care About Sustainable Food

I never intended to pay much attention to local politics. All I wanted to do was live quietly on my property, growing vegetables and caring for my backyard animals. However, I learned -- very quickly -- that local politics (and local politicians) have an incredible amount of influence over my plans for my property. All of the good intentions in the world don't matter if you're not allowed to do what you hope to do. If your seedling hoophouse, your front-yard garden, or your backyard chickens or dwarf goats are forbidden under your city's rules, then local politics become very relevant.

With that in mind, I want to pass along my endorsements for our upcoming election. While I believe that all of the candidates below show exceptional leadership skills and the knowledge base to make great decisions, ultimately my endorsements are based on their sustainability platforms (particularly as they relate to food issues). Please mail in your ballot before May 3rd. Let's get some pro-food, pro-sustainability leadership in Denver!

Mayor: James Mejia

City Council At-Large: Robin Kniech

City Council District 1: Katherine Cornwell

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Big One: Action Alert!

Note: You can still send participate in this Action Alert, even though Monday evening has passed. City Council has delayed the first reading, so we still have time to get in extra emails in support of the ordinance!

(To jump to the sample email, look for the Action Alert below.)

Thanks to everyone for your participation in our Action Alerts so far. Please know that they have been making a difference. For example, following last Monday's Action Alert, Councilman Linkhart has been responding via email that he is supporting the current version of the Food Producing Animals ordinance.

This Monday evening City Council is having the first reading of the FPA ordinance, which is usually just a formality (the public hearing and City Council vote are scheduled for May 16th). However, now there is reason to believe that one or more Councilmembers may attempt to hold up (or even kill) the FPA ordinance during Monday night's meeting. Therefore, now is the time that we need to flood City Council with emails in support of the ordinance.

Please send this Action Alert far and wide -- pass it on to everyone you know in Denver. We need to make a really big push for this ordinance.

Action Alert

As always, please feel free to craft your own email from scratch, edit the sample email below, or use the sample email in its entirety. 

Please copy and past the following text (including commas) for the "To" field of your email:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Subject line: Please support chickens!

Dear Members of City Council,

I am a resident of Denver, living in the _______ neighborhood. I am writing to ask you to support the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance.

I and other supporters were hoping for a much more generous bill. But we understand that all interests and concerns need to be accommodated. After all, this is what we have been fighting for all along -- that our passions for backyard gardens with chickens and dwarf goats be finally given fair recognition and treatment. We may not have everything we want, but we believe we still have a fair and reasonable compromise, a bill that finally meets the needs of Denver's growing "chicken movement" while providing appropriate protections and assurances for our neighbors.

Please support the proposed Food Producing Animals compromise. Please vote for Denver to join the many cities across the country who have embraced the urban chicken!

Thank you,
(your name)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

James Mejia: Mayor

I first met James Mejia at a community event last year, and I liked him right away. However, when considering who to support for Mayor, I wanted to be sure not to base my decision on personality. While there are many different topics that I care about, I focused most of my attention on sustainability -- particularly as it relates to local food issues. Food is not a "niche" topic within the realm of sustainability. It is literally what sustains us, and our diet is one of the biggest energy consumers and polluters in our lives.

I find Mejia's entire sustainability platform to be impressive. In particular, he is one of only two major candidates to even mention food when discussing sustainable policies for Denver. Mejia's thoughts about sustainable food policy include converting some city owned land into community gardens, increasing the number of Farmers' Markets in Denver, changing the laws around the sharing and sale of backyard produce, and -- yes -- improving the rules regarding Food Producing Animals like hen chickens and dwarf dairy goats.

In my advocacy work I've spent a lot of time on the Food Producing Animals (FPA) ordinance, and I've had the opportunity to talk with several of the candidates about this issue. Though it may seem like a small thing to focus on, I truly believe that the FPA ordinance is an accurate barometer for where an elected official stands on sustainability issues. Remember that the FPA ordinance is not some slapdash policy thrown together by activists on the fringe. The proposed ordinance was carefully crafted by staff from Community Planning & Development, Animal Care & Control, the Department of Environmental Health, and the City Attorney's office. The team spent time researching successful FPA ordinances in other major cities, and the guidelines in Denver's proposed ordinance fall well within the boundaries of what is working elsewhere. The ordinance passed unanimously through the Denver Planning Board.

Therefore, the FPA ordinance represents supporting well-researched and well-written policies that address a legitimate urban sustainability issue -- even in the face of the inevitable fear of change from some members of the community. 

James Mejia recognizes that Denver has a reputation for being a sustainable city, and he wants us to do everything we can to live up to (and exceed) that reputation. Sustainable, affordable, accessible food is a food justice issue -- and he understands how important that is for our all of our city's residents. I'm also a huge fan of Mejia's Buy Denver Initiative (BDI), which would require the City of Denver to give preference to local vendors in the procurement process, and also promote the production and purchase of local foods and sustainably made goods.

I would love to see Denver's development as a sustainable city if James Mejia becomes our Mayor. Visit the Mejia for Mayor website to learn more about James Mejia, sign on as a supporter, or request a yard sign.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Action Alert: Why is the "green" candidate not supporting the FPA ordinance?

(To jump to the sample email, look for the Action Alert below.)

Councilman Doug Linkhart is a City Councilperson At-Large (meaning he represents all of Denver) and is currently running for Mayor. Whenever Linkhart speaks at sustainability events, he touts his history with the the EPA and likes to bill himself as the "green" candidate. However, in his role as a City Councilperson, Linkhart has not yet said that he would support the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance.

Regardless of the results of the first mayoral ballot on May 3rd, Linkhart will still retain his City Council seat through May 16th, which is when the Food Producing Animals (FPA) ordinance will be up for a vote. With only 12 people serving on our City Council right now, every vote is critically important. We need him to vote in favor of the ordinance.

When I've spoken with Councilman Linkhart about this issue, part of his hesitation stems from his desire to be the "neighborhood" guy in addition to the "green" guy. We need to let Linkhart know that sustainable food systems actually help to build community, and that implementation of FPA ordinances in other cities has not diminished property values or quality of life. All of us who live in Denver should be counted as "neighborhood" people. He also needs to understand that his positioning of himself as a green candidate needs to include support for a well-written FPA ordinance.

Since Linkhart is a Councilperson At-Large, everyone in Denver can write him about this issue. Please feel free to craft your own email, edit the sample email below, or use the sample email in its entirety. Thank you for your help as we take these important steps to pass a new Food Producing Animals ordinance for Denver!
Action Alert

Send your email to all of these addresses: (this is Linkhart's aide, and she'll be sure the emails reach him)

Subject line:
The FPA ordinance -- Good for sustainability AND neighborhoods!
Dear Councilman Linkhart,

I am a Denver resident, living in the ______ neighborhood. I love where I live, and consider myself to be a "neighborhood" person. I am writing to ask you to support the Food Producing Animals (FPA) ordinance.

In your campaign for Mayor, you often portray yourself as the "green" candidate. You're quoted in HuffPost Denver as saying that if you're elected, "Denver will be the greenest city in the country." If that's the case, then why are you not taking a position in favor of the FPA ordinance? Other cities that are green and progressive -- like Seattle -- have already adopted ordinances similar to what Denver is considering. Why should Denver be left behind in its quest to be a truly green city?

Please understand that the FPA ordinance is about more than just chickens and goats. It really is an accurate barometer of where an elected official stands on sustainability issues. The FPA ordinance represents supporting well-researched and well-written policies that address a legitimate urban sustainability issue -- even in the face of knee-jerk NIMBYism and fear of change. If you can't vote for an ordinance that has the support of Community Planning & Development, the Department of Environmental Health, and the Denver Planning Board, how can we trust that you'll take a stand for sustainable policies if you become Mayor?

If you listen to the stories of those who raise backyard chickens and goats (like these in the North Denver Tribune: you would understand that these animals help to build community and connect neighbors in a positive way. There is absolutely no evidence in the experience of other cities that points to problems with property values or neighborhood quality of life following the implementation of FPA ordinances.

Please support the Food Producing Animals ordinance. It's a sustainable, sensible policy for Denver.

(your name)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Katherine Cornwell: City Council District 1

I am proud to be supporting Katherine Cornwell for City Council District 1 (northwest Denver). Katherine is extraordinarily qualified, with 15 years of experience as a city planner. She has been a resident of northwest Denver for the last 10 years, and has a deep understanding of the issues that affect our neighborhoods. She will be ready to do her job as an effective City Councilperson on day 1 -- she has the skills and knowledge base to hit the ground running.

Katherine has made the local food economy one of the key issues of her platform. She recognizes the vital role that sustainable urban food systems hold in the development of healthy communities. Our local food system is also a tremendous untapped opportunity for economic growth. Our community spends over $6 billion dollars each year on food that is trucked in from far-away farms. Katherine wants to bring some of that money home to our local economy, creating countless jobs -- and improving our health and environment along the way.

Please join me at a Meet & Greet on Tuesday, April 19th from 5:30-8:30 at The Oriental (4335 W. 44th Ave). Take the opportunity to talk with Katherine and share your thoughts about the issues that affect northwest Denver.

You can learn more about Katherine by visiting her website at  If you'd like to get more information or receive a yard sign, just send an email to