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The Domestication of America “on the radio show” Living on Earth ” Urban Planning

I don’t listen to as much radio, especially NPR, as I want because I’ve gotten used to listening to the radio mostly in a car and not being tied to a car, that doesn’t mean much radio.

But I made a dish, Ina Gartens Corn avocado saladI turned on the radio at the NPR subsidiary KCPW and they broadcast the environmental theme show “Live on earth. “

One of the segments was “Animal City: The domestication of America, “With Andrew Robichaud, author of the book of the same name, on how feed animals were once a key element in cities, dairies that I knew of and” feed lots “that I didn’t know, and the process of removing them works first on the outskirts of cities and then outside of cities altogether.

It is definitely worth listening to.

It is an important story that still shows up from time to time as today’s building codes usually apply Limit animals even chickens on residential properties and even prohibit small-scale slaughter and other types of food production, including artisanal brewing and distilling, even large-scale baking, in industrial areas.

This happened in Alexandria, Virginia last year.

Their zoning regulations no longer prohibit the slaughter of animals and some residents refused to allow a small halal poultry farm (“Halal’s slaughterhouse and business are approved by the shared council in Alexandria, Virginia., ” Washington Post).

The opposition was complicated. Some addressed concerns about the olfactory potential and improper handling of waste, as well as anti-Muslim beliefs or meat consumption.

As a small business that has nothing to do with a Swift meat packaging system, many of these concerns were exaggerated or irrelevant to a discussion of zoning and permissible uses.

Subsequently Professor Robichaud mentions an area of ​​San Francisco that was once called “Butchertown” where animals were kept and slaughtered.

It reminded me of real life Butchertown district in Louisvillewhere there is a Swift slaughterhouse / meat packing facility (which is still in operation today) and the ubiquitous smell of animals, at least when I was there in 2004.

Back when I was doing a historical conservation study of the H Street neighborhood, one of the elements that was covered in the neighborhood history section, how the area was once on the outskirts of the city, that there were “nurseries”, small lots earlier Cultivation of products for sale in the city and slaughterhouses, slaughterhouses for animals.

Horses. We also discussed a little bit about why there were stables and carriage houses and drayage. When someone led a tour, he asked a question about “What happened to all the horseshit?” but I didn’t have a good answer.

Another book on the subject is The horse in the city: living machines in the 19th centurythat came out a few years after our study.

Problems around “the horse in the city” still arise today.

Depending on the city, there may still be horse stables and public access for riding. Many police departments also have police units on horses (“Long legs of the law: Mounted police units are valued for crowd control and parking patrols – but training requires more than just horse sense, ” Los Angeles times) and there may be complaints about how they are used in mass control.

(In DC, both the US Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department set up police units. The US Capitol Police had such a unit for a short time, but Congress disbanded the unit because of the cost.)

Other problems I’m familiar with are:

• In cities like New York City, animal rights activists are fighting against the continuation of tourist-oriented carriage rides (“In his fifth year as mayor, de Blasio finally lives up to the promise of the horse-drawn carriage, ” New York Times). These horses are still housed in the city.

• In Baltimore, “A-Rabber” sell fruit and vegetables from horse-drawn carriages, and animal rights activists are also against it (“Since Baltimore’s Arabs are a thing of the past, a photographer wants to preserve the tradition, ” Baltimore Sun.“).

• and in some trail planning processes, although more in suburbs and suburbs, It is common to provide access to horses in addition to pedestrians and cyclists.

Food animals and cities today. And the re-legalization of animal husbandry on a small scale “backyard” has been a problem for some time. I call the opportunity to do this with your neighbors “Block Supported Agriculture”. post Office Columnist Tamar Haspel just wrote about the increase in chicken breeding following the pandemic (“7 tips for raising backyard chickens, from breed selection to exit strategy“).

Seattle is possibly the most liberal city in the United States when it comes to such regulationsWhile many cities are not interested in going that far and feel comfortable with chickens or not. DC is definitely a straggler in this regard.

Master planning for animal husbandry and land use. Some districts have divided their land use so that rural areas are permanently protected. Baltimore County, Maryland was one of the first in the late 1960s. The way they fight urban sprawl is to refuse to offer “urban water” service to rural areas of the county.

Greater Portland is known for its urban growth limit, although all areas in Oregon are required as part of master planning processes for urban and rural areas.

Montgomery County Maryland has a large agricultural reserve, about 30% of the county’s 507 square miles, although, as a former planning director commented, “anything that has helped to spread it past Frederick County” (“Montgomery is looking for new crops from farmers, ” Washington Post).

In rural areas there are often conflicts between new residents and existing farms (“The “Right to Agriculture” laws allow Ag to be smelly and noisy, but some neighbors shout “poultry”., “Colorado Public Radio”;Suburban farms face resistance when trying to change business, ” Baltimore Sun.;; “”The beer-based fight in Fairfax causes officials to deal with the state’s Agriculture Act, ” Washington Post). Such disputes often end up in court.

Agricultural land communities typically have an agricultural element in their land use master plans, while cities typically don’t. Although this changes as an interest in Urban agriculture grows.


(Not related to animals.)


Front yard gardening. Another problem is gardening in the front yard, which many people consider to be “chaotic” and which prohibit many zone codes (“The front in the front yard, ” NYT). But depending on whether you have a garden and whether there is enough sun or not, this may be the only option that people have for growing vegetables.

The concept of Edible landscape / foodscaping. More on that another time.

Labels: building codes, food-agriculture markets, industrial areas, neighborhood planning, urban agriculture, urban history, zoning

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