As Iowa City is poised for its first backyard chicken vote, just to the north, supporters have something to crow about.
The Mount Vernon City Council passed an ordinance last month to allow residents to keep up to six chickens within city limits.
Council member Jamie Hampton was the lone dissenting vote.
Jen Rothmeyer, chairwoman of the gardening and local foods initiative for Thrive Mount Vernon, said the idea started one year ago.
Rothmeyer, 28, who is earning her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Iowa and is a Linn County Master Gardener, promoted the idea as part of Mount Vernon’s application to become a Blue Zones community, the cornerstone of Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative.
“That was one of the first things on the agenda – to pass a chicken ordinance,” she said of her committee.
A majority of respondents to a survey in the town of 4,500 supported the idea, with 23 residents saying they would like to own chickens.
The ordinance prohibits roosters and requires a $10 annual permit.
In Iowa City, council members will vote Tuesday, Nov. 13, on two changes in the city code that would allow residents to keep up to four hens.
The movement has been percolating in Iowa City for several years. Similar measures have passed in Cedar Rapids, Palo, Hills and other cities across the country.
Supporters say keeping a small flock of chickens is an environmentally friendly way to provide local food in the form of eggs.
Iowa City’s proposal would prohibit the sale of eggs and the slaughter of chickens, but chickens are allowed to be slaughtered in Mount Vernon.
Rothmeyer, who writes for the Mount Vernon Sun, said she would like her children to be involved in raising the hens that her family plans to buy next spring.
She also plans to continue efforts of the gardening and local foods initiative, with the hopes of creating a community garden, seed exchange program, gardening education series and more in Mount Vernon.
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