Want to Start an Urban Farm? – Full Article

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By: L. Leland

*Article appeared in print version of The Buckman Voice… Bolded section was unpublished*

Have you ever thought about raising hens or keeping bees? Sorting out the permitting issues can be intimidating at first, but let me get you pointed in the right direction.

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For chickens, ducks, doves, pigeons, pygmy goats or rabbits if you plan to have three or less (of any combination) no permit is required!

If you do need a permit, don’t worry. It’s a relatively easy process and the rules are pretty common-sense. The inspector is going to want to see that there is enough secured space, ventilation, and light for the animals to stay healthy. In addition, the structure must be at least 15 feet from homes, not including your own. For hoofed or loud animals this is extended to 50 feet. You will need to have a feeding strategy that will not attract rats, which can become a problem in urban environments. For chickens, I tried many different things before discovering a koi feeder that solved this problem. Absorbent ground cover needs to be replaced often in order to keep smells down, straw tends to work very well for this. Your permit application, plus $31 will go to Multnomah County Health Department Vector and Nuisance Control.

You can keep native mason bee houses without a permit, but all honey bee hives require a permit and some additional steps. You will need to notify all neighbors within 150 feet of your property. (It is no longer required to obtain their signatures.) Hives must be at least 15 feet away from any public walkways, streets, parks, public or private buildings (not including your own.) If the hive is closer than 150 feet to any of the aforementioned places, then it must be protected by a 6 foot high fence or hedgerow. Once you have met these requirements, you can submit your permit application along with $12 to Multnomah County Health Department Vector and Nuisance Control. If you plan to have more than 5 hives, you must also register with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. I’d also like to add please make sure that you have a reliable water source for your bees so that they don’t become a nuisance to your neighbors.

For any animal that you are thinking of introducing to your home or yard, please do research to find out what level of commitment it will to keep them happy and healthy. The Urban Farm Store and Bridgetown Bees are great resources in Buckman!

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Portland is lucky to have our very own bee club! I’m Vice President of the Portland Urban Beekeepers. It is a great way to learn about beekeeping locally.

Spring and Summer are bee swarm weather! Bee colonies reproduce by sending some bees away to find a new home. If you see a bee swarm in Buckman (or anywhere else in the Portland area,) please call the swarm hotline to report it. The number is: (503) 444-8446. This hotline will call a list of beekeepers until someone is found that can save it.

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