Over the past decade, the backyard chicken movement has been gaining momentum and is yet to crest. Across North America, there have been repeated cases of elected officials not listening to the requests of their constituents to keep family flocks and have the right to grow their own food.
This came to a climax on January 28, 2015 when residents of Augusta County, Virginia went before the Country Board of Supervisors fighting for their right to keep four backyard hens.
The room was packed with almost 100 pro-chicken advocates. A dozen people spoke in favor of backyard hens, while only one person spoke against it.
Inspite of the overwhelming pro-chicken turnout, the board voted 5-2 against the ordinance. Some of the supervisors that opposed backyard hens said they couldn't endorse anything "that threatened the poultry industry".
Farmer and author Joel Salatin was interviewed by CBS after the meeting and said,
“The industry won and people lost. What happened tonight is a special protectionism to the industry that the citizen then has to be dependent on the industry and can't extricate ourselves in liberty to be self-reliant. I would suggest that people do it anyway. I would encourage civil disobedience. I think it worked well for Henry David Thoreau and I think we're in a day where we need to practice some civil disobedience.”
The next day, during a mastermind meeting, the Chicken Underground was hatched. It's time to practice some creative ways to feed ourselves and claim our natural-law right to raise our own food, including family flocks. A clarion call went out to the Augusta "Team Chicken” and family flock advocates nationwide.
In response to the declaration of food rights—and to help our Augusta neighbors—the Shenandoah Valley Poultry and Garden Club, as part of the Chicken Underground, offers to let any resident (where chickens are illegal) to chicken-sit 4 hens as a favor to the poultry sphere.
If questioned by authorities, the chicken-sitting residents can honestly state:
• They do not own the birds.
• The flock-ette is just visiting and does not live there.
• If needed, the Underground Chickeneers will relocate the flock-etts quickly—no questions.
Send us your empty-nesters and the Chicken Underground will arrange for flock-ettes to deserving nest-holds. We are ready to act—there are birds in the wings and restless for backyard coops and runs.
The Chicken Underground is about the right to keep family flocks and feed yourself healthy food you raise and grow. The term "underground" in a similar spirit of personal freedom and liberty as the Underground Railroad of the 1800s that helped slaves seeking freedom and ultimately led to the Civil War.
The Chicken Underground is about food freedom. It is not a formal institution but a grass-roots, nationwide, voluntary network of Chickeneers and neighbors helping each other, across boundaries, political parties and cultural differences to provide the most primal of human needs: food.
Chickens, like dogs and cats have been with humans over 10,000 years. Chickens are the gateways and cornerstones to local foods. The Chicken Underground was created in the spirit of helping to create a world where there is no greed, and there is no hunger. It is possible.
This might be the "Cluck heard round the world"!
Be all you can be! Be an Underground Chickeneer!
The saga continues and here’s a few of the comments from NBC29.com and WVIR-TV about the Augusta County, Virginia ban on family flocks. For the next election a Chicken Ticket platform is being developed to determine if candidates are for, or gainst family flocks and local foods. Sometimes the chicken movement has had to proceed election-by-election.
“Although Joel Salatin is correct in saying "the industry" won he is really just scratching the surface. What came out the victor in tonight's ruling is that not only did a local government body side with the wishes of a huge industry, they also directly spat in the faces and wishes of their constituency. For 7 members of a Board who is there to manage the affairs of the county to tell its residents that they cannot grow their own food is an atrocity.
JL 9:11 AM Jan 303
I just hope people realize once this sets in and everyone forgets about it the next step will be eliminating the home garden. There are already multiple state rural areas in which it is forbidden already. People lose their homes over it and get arrested just YouTube it. These things are nothing more than a violation of liberty and natural law, regardless of the specifics, it is wrong to tell us what to do with our individual lives and how we choose to supply sustenance. You board members can go to.
Keith 11:54 AM Jan 29
Hard to believe that this was not unanimously approved. These are elected officials, share your feelings with them at the polls and throw the bums out.
BO 11:34 AM Jan 29
1. Don't vote for them on the next round. 2. The occasional Backyard Farmers (BF) with several hens cannot hurt the poultry industry where an Industrial Farmer (IF) might have 30,000 or more chickens per Industrial farm. It’s important to note that at least one of the board voters owns a chicken industrial farm, and she voted. This is obviously a conflict of interest and she illegally influence her other co-members.
I agree completely with the hiss and the boo. It was an absolute disgrace. At the meeting, I presented facts that I researched and turned into a visual aid that cannot be argued with. In preparation, I sought the advice of local experts. I read scientific research. I read the recommendations of the USDA, FAO and CDC. I did the math for which there is only one right answer. Did the five who voted no do their research? NO. They expressed their opinion. Were they elected to share their opinion with us? NO. Were they elected to be objective and responsive to the will of the people? YES! I printed a copy of my research, including a report from an expert at Virginia Tech, and guidelines of biosecurity practices, for each member of the BOS. My guess is for the five that voted no, it was the first time they'd seen objective, factual information on this topic. But did it make a difference? No.
County Resident 3:16 PM Jan 29+1
It just goes to show ya: 5 times out of 7 you can't tell an Augusta County supervisor from a fat cat industrial chicken farm owner.
10:38 AM Jan 29
The supervisors who voted against were David A. Karaffa (Beverley Manor), Larry Wills (Middle River), Michael Shull (Riverheads), Carolyn Bragg (South River) and Jeffrey Moore (Wayne). THANK YOU to Marshall Pattie (North River) and Tracy Pyles (Pastures)!!!
NBC29.Com - NBC News Virginia