Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hampton Roads Sustainability Expo!

4 Chesapeake Hens spent the day at the Hampton Roads Sustainability Expo in Virginia Beach. Tom Powell and his family were there, as was my friend and fellow Chicken-Activist, Wendy Camacho. The Expo even allowed us to bring a couple of hens as poster-girls for the movement. Here we are, with our poster-chickens:

L-R: Wendy, 2 Gold Sex-Link Hens, Mary Lou and Tom

I was pleased to have a chance to meet our local online food co-op and several of its vendors at the event. The Virginia Urban Homesteaders League was there, beekeepers and beekeeping groups, local food activists, and so many others! Many of them are rooting for us to win the right to keep our backyard hens, and we thanked them all for their support, interest, and appreciation today. We are not alone!

Tom's son, Xavier, poses with us, too!

Wendy and I presented "A Case for Chesapeake Hens: Chickens on the Road to Sustainability," which was well received. 

Photo courtesy of Lanette Grovesteen Lepper

 Many people stopped at our booth. Tom, Wendy, and I all talked until we were hoarse. It was a pleasant surprise to see how many people already knew us, knew our group, liked our page, read this blog, and were willing and able to help us in some way. It was a great feeling. Several people told us they loved the hens--who stole the show!-- and that our booth was their favorite at the whole event.

We gave out lots of flyers advertising Pat Foreman's upcoming appearance at the Chesapeake Central Library on Tuesday, October 9. We encouraged residents from Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach to check out as well as our own Facebook page to network with others to change the laws in their own communities. We urged Chesapeake residents to dress in red and come to the Planning Commission meeting on October 10 at 7 PM, where we plan to object to recent recommendations regarding changes to the zoning laws by the Planning Department. Supporters will arrive dressed in red, the color of the "Little Red Hen."

Why do we object? One provision would limit hens to four per household, despite the fact that both local and state laws make it a misdemeanor to sell chicks (under 8 weeks of age) in flocks of less than six. We do not mind the proposal that the hens be kept in pens but find the requirement of an additional six-foot privacy fence around the entire back yard to be unnecessary and burdensome. Everyone who heard about requiring a fence in addition to a secure pen thought it was ridiculous, and many people promised to come out in force as a show of support.

We hope they follow through. We suspect they will.

How will the Planning Commission React? Stay tuned to find out. Or, better yet, come to the Commission meeting, dressed in red, and be among the first to know.

Update: On November 20, Chesapeake City Council voted 6-3 to allow hens with certain restriction in residential areas.


  1. Thank you for the updates. I was unaware that local and state laws make it a misdemeanor to purchase chicks in flocks of less than six.

    1. JJ, Did you get my reply? I posted it as a comment, below, instead of as a reply, and now I fear you didn't get it. I clarified my remarks about the law and number of hens a little.

  2. JJ, the way I wrote that was a little confusing. It is actually illegal to *sell* chickens in Virginia in flocks of less than six, so you can't buy them locally that way. The law only pertains to chickens under eight weeks of age. You can legally sell hens older than eight weeks in any amount you want. Whether you can *keep* them legally depends on where you live, of course. To sell chickens under eight weeks of age in flocks of less than six is a misdemeanor under Virginia law and also locally here in Chesapeake. I hope this clarifies what I wrote a little. I'm going to go ahead and edit my post. Thanks!