Food and Cuisine

Published on February 3rd, 2012 | by Karen Lee


Georgia Lawmakers Want You to Grow Your Own Food

backyard chickensPeople of Georgia have been allowed to produce food for their own consumption in their backyard since the Civil War but recently, the local government has been hampering their effort with zoning laws and “Right to Grow” bills.

But Powder Springs Republican Earl Ehrhart, who represents Cobb County in Georgia’s General Assembly, wants to change that. He wants to lift the requirement that homeowners have at least two acres before they can raise livestock.

According to Food Safety News, Ehrhart believes “people should be free to raise chickens and grow backyard crops on their property. He says the Right to Grow bill represents a basic freedom, recalling those days when Georgians all grew their own food.”

What is Right to Grow Bill

The Georgia “Right to Grow” is aimed at crops and livestock grown by homeowners for their own consumption and not for commercial use.

Local code enforcement could still address the premises if they cause public nuisance and bring actions under the proposed law.

While a similar bill introduced last session went nowhere, recent events, like a citation that was given to a couple in Powder Springs for raising 15 chickens in their backyard, have pushed Right to Grow to the forefront. The couple said their chickens were not bothering anyone, but they were still visited by a code enforcement officer. They have until Feb. 10 to move their birds.

As drafted, the Georgia Right to Grow Act defines “crops” as fruits and the products of all annual or perennial plants, trees or shrubs.

The bill goes on to say “no county, municipality, consolidated government or local government authority shall prohibit or require any permit for the growing or raising of food crops or chickens or rabbits in home gardens, crops or pens on private residential property so long as such food crops or animals or the products thereof are eased for human consumption by the occupant of such property and members of his or her household and not for commercial purposes.”

Not all Georgians Agree

Georgia’s cities, however, are mounting vigorous opposition to the Right to Grow bill. The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) is opposed to this bill, citing that each case is different and that it’s best to be left to the local government to decide instead of “one type fits all” piece of legislation.” Last year, Georgia cities managed to keep an earlier version of the Right to Grow bill from passing.

With gardeners being threatened to be jailed for growing food in their front yard to being cited for raising chickens in their backyard, in recent years, this bill, if passes, will be a small victory for those of us who want to grow our own. Hope other states will follow suit and make growing our own food legal in this country.

[Chickens in Open Cage via Shutterstock]

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About the Author

Karen lives a simple, frugal, green life and shares her eco tips and news on ecokaren and is a co-founder of Green Sisterhood, a network of community of green women bloggers, making change. When she's not managing Green Sisterhood or blogging on ecokaren, she is a chauffeur to two greenagers, wife to an accidental recycler, master chef to hungry locavores, seamstress, knitter, and dumpster diver, not necessarily in that order.

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