High Country Conservation Center helps Summit County breed next generation of backyard farmers | SummitDaily.com

High Country Conservation Center helps Summit County breed next generation of backyard farmers

Breeana Laughlin
The High Country Conservation Center has positioned themselves to be the go-to organization for education and resources about backyard, or urban farming, in Summit County.
File photo |

With new Summit County farm regulations in place and a draft plan in the works in Silverthorne, High Country Conservation Center staffers are hard at work compiling all the resources people will need to have backyard chickens come springtime.

“We have a new chicken (web)page that gives resources about everything from how to get started, to what kind of coop you need and how chickens do in our kind of environment,” said Jen Santry, HC3’s community programs director. “So, it’s a good starting place for people who are interested in getting chickens.”

The information contained on HC3’s Summit Community Garden Network webpage (http://summitgardennetwork.org/) also features a frequently-asked-questions section addressing real-life scenarios people should consider before they go out and buy chickens, Santry said.

The questions addressed include: “What happens after the hen’s prime egg-laying years are over?” “How will you protect your chickens?” and “How will you keep your chickens warm during our long winters?”

“These are real things people need to know before they get involved with chickens,” Santry said. “I want people to understand what they’re getting into and do their research.”

HC3 has positioned itself to be the go-to organization for education and resources about backyard, or urban, farming, which is a way for community members to become more self-sufficient — feeding themselves and their families through gardens, goats, chickens or bees.

The key to urban farming, HC3 staffers said, is that it isn’t taking place on the outskirts of town or out in the middle of nowhere. It’s taking place in large cities like Portland, New York and Denver. Urban-farming fever is spreading throughout suburbia to the mountain towns, from Fort Collins, Littleton, Steamboat to Leadville and now Summit County, Santry said.

Besides the resources on its website, HC3 plans to hold another series of workshops in early Spring outlining how to get started in various methods of urban farming, Santry said.

“That’s why we’re here, and that’s what we told the county we would do — provide those resources and ask those questions,” she said. “I’m also happy to work with people and put them in touch with the experts.”

As it stands in Summit County, chickens, goats and bees are now allowed on properties in unincorporated areas. Towns will have to adopt regulations independently.

S’thorne farm regs

The town of Silverthorne is the only incorporated area in the county considering adopting farming regulations into its code at this time.

Silverthorne town planner Lina Maria Lesmes said the town started considering the regulations after residents expressed interest.

“We had a general discussion with town council on the topic during the summer and they told us to do some research and see what we could come up with in terms of regulations,” Lesmes said.

Silverthorne’s staff had a general discussion with members of the planning commission earlier this month — and they got mixed reviews, Lesmes said.

“We took it to our planning commission this month and the planning commission was torn on the idea,” she said.

The discussion will continue at the planning commission’s January meeting, which will be open to the public. Santry urged community members to attend.

“If you are interested in keeping chickens within your town, you need to talk to your town, specifically the planners, because they want to hear directly from the public,” she said.

The Silverthorne meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the council chambers.

Those who can’t make the meeting, or who want to submit a comment regarding regulations before the meeting, can contact Lesmes at LLesmes@Silverthorne.org.

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