Teen works to change animal farm ordinance in Washington

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — A young girl in Washington is working to get an ordinance changed so that residents in the city can have chickens in their backyard.

An ordinance that has been in place since the mid-nineties bans farm animals, particularly chickens, from staying within the city limits.

But 13-year-old Washington resident Emma Wood thinks it should be changed and is taking matters into her own hands.

“It’s important in my opinion to be a part of the local food movement because Greenville, Raleigh, Charlotte, New Bern and all of these places allow chickens,” said Wood. “And Washington doesn’t.”

It’s a local food movement that the city of Washington cannot be a part of.

“The existing ordinance is pretty clear that fowl are not allowed in the city limits,” said John Rodman, Washington’s planning director.

But Wood is not letting that stop her.

After a family trip to Virginia, she said she realized chickens are important.

“We went to a place called Polyface Farms,” said Wood. “It was really interesting because they were just showing us how we can connect to our food and where it comes. And I just think its really important to know where our food comes from.”

So she asked the planning board to change their ordinance and bring it to the Washington City Council.

Her attempts to persuade them have been unsuccessful.

“There are a lot of people not familiar with backyard chickens or urban chickens or whatever you may call them, myself being one of them,” said Rodman.

So the ordinance will be brought up again in January.

In the meantime, Emma is collecting signatures for a petition.

“We’ve gotten to a point where I want to benefit the city,” Wood said. “Our health, individually and as a community, is very important, so if I get the city to pass it then, I’ll benefit others and not necessarily myself.”
Emma may not even be able to get chickens in her own backyard because of certain neighborhood restrictions that would override the ordinance, but she’s still working hard to make changes.

To help her out, contact the Washington City Council or contact Emma Wood at rachaelpwood12@gmail.com.

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