Q: I want to join a community garden. Can you help me?

Answer: There are lots of community gardens in Forsyth county. Since 2010, Forsyth county government has funded a community garden program at Cooperative Extension. Currently, Megan Gregory is the Community Garden Coordinator at Forsyth Cooperative Extension. There are gardens that are associated with churches, YMCA’s, Second Harvest Food Bank, neighborhoods, parks and schools. The extension service is in the process of updating its map and directory, but you can visit the Forsyth Community Gardening website at http://www.forsythcommunitygardening.com to check out the current map and directory. It has not been updated in several years, so your best bet would be to look at the map, see what gardens are listed as close to where you live, and then do a ‘ride by’. You can also send us an email and we can help you get connected. For the community gardeners out there, please take a few minutes to submit an updated Directory entry this month. You can fill out the form by going to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSePZtJbUceTmUlXeZy9gv0RwDIxlWvSv-g62F2DH-RGqPwkSQ/viewform?c=0&w=1.

Q: I want to keep chickens inside the city limits. What department in the city handles backyard chickens? What are the regulations?

Answer: There is an application that you must complete in order to keep poultry, pigeons, or other fowl inside the city limits. The city of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Inspections Division handles the application process. A completed application along with a scaled site plan, an elevation drawing of the coop or other structure along with the materials list, and notarized affidavits from all impacted property owners (not required under some circumstances) must be filed with the Inspections division. The application can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1hDNJtx. First you need to complete the Inspections division application for keeping chickens. A zoning permit must be issued by the Inspections division before any construction of a chicken run and/or coop. There is a requirement that chickens be kept enclosed in a run. The run must be at least four feet high and provide at least 10 square feet of run per chicken. The coop that you construct for your chickens must be made of solid material and be within the run, or adjacent to the run keeping the chickens within the enclosure. The coop shall provide a minimum of three square feet of floor area per chicken and a minimum of two feet in elevation for each floor or level. There is also a requirement that your chicken structure be in the rear of the house and at least 25 feet from the neighbor’s property line. If you have poultry structures 100 feet from adjoining property lines, you are not required to have a notarized affidavit from neighbors. The maximum number of chickens that may be kept in a backyard poultry operation are five hens and no roosters. Chicken manure and food scraps must be collected daily from March 15 through September 15 and stored in a water tight, fly proof container or pit. You may only slaughter chickens for your own use on the property where the chickens have been kept as long as it is done in a sanitary fashion out of sight from public view and the view of adjacent property. Waste products must be disposed of properly. The following web address for the University of Minnesota Small Farms page is a great resource for backyard poultry basics: http://bit.ly/1mYHcvw.

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Mary Jac Brennan is the agent for fruit and vegetable horticulture for small farms and local food for the Forsyth Cooperative Extension. Contact Mary Jac about commercial production, local foods, and sustainable agriculture questions. For information on home and gardening issues, contact the Forsyth Cooperative Extension office at maryjac_brennan @ncsu.edu or call 336-703-2850.

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