Pittsburgh is surrounded by farmland with great access to locally grown food. But some urbanites want a taste of home-grown, home-raised food without leaving the city. If cooking fresh eggs from your own backyard or making cheese with milk from a personal goat herd sounds idyllic to you, the City of Pittsburgh won’t prevent you from living your country dreams.
In 2015, the city updated its urban agriculture zoning ordinance, making it easier for residents to obtain permits to keep goats, chickens and bees. It still takes a little internet digging (helped along by GrowPittsburgh) to find the specifics so here’s a breakdown of how, where and what animals can be kept in Pittsburgh. The first rule? Absolutely no roosters (the reason for this isn’t clarified, but roosters’ noisiness and aggression are a safe bet).
Residents with a permit and 2,000 square feet or more of land can keep up to five chickens or ducks. Each additional 1,000 square feet earns you one more feathered friend. If bees are more your speed, up to two hives are allowed per 2,000 square feet of land as long as they are 10 feet from any property lines. After all, not all neighbors appreciate the dull buzz of bee colonies or the possibility of honeycomb straight from the hive.
In addition to winged creatures, our four-legged friends also get their own set of rules. Each 2,000 square feet of land can be home to two miniature goats, while 10,000 square feet earns you the right to two adult goats. Add 5,000 square feet and make it a herd of three. There is a catch though, each goat must be dehorned.
While this code may still seem strict to some, the city of Pittsburgh is actually leading the way compared to areas like Wilkinsburg and Penn Hills, where only chickens are allowed. With the hyperlocal food movement progressing and more people interested in having community gardens, the Urban Redevelopment Authority is piloting a Farm-a-Lot program to turn vacant lots into productive spaces. The recent URA approval of the new urban agricultural policy, drafted with the Food Policy Council, gives residents a better shot at longer-term leases and lease-to-purchase agreements that will allow them to stay on the land. Add a few chickens or goats to the situation and dinner is just a growing season away.