5 Tips to Keep Great Neighbors

Cranky neighbors take the fun out of urban farming. Follow these tips to help everyone get along.

Let’s face it: The average city dweller just doesn’t think of chickens and bees in the backyard as “normal.” Living a sustainable lifestyle is going to generate questions from those around you, so be prepared to handle some raised eyebrows (and worse). You’ve no doubt read about urban-farmer evictions and neighbor-induced lawsuits, but you can stop neighborhood issues before they get that far.

Here are five tips to help you and your neighbors live a long, happy life together:

1. Invite them for tea. When your neighbors understand what’s happening behind that fence of yours, they’re more likely to be understanding of a stray bee or three.

2. Build good fences. A flower-gardening aficionado won’t be happy when your chickens rummage his or her prized petunias, so keep your hens where they belong.

3. Keep it clean. If you can smell your goat pen, so can your neighbors. Keep your urban farm spic and span, and no one will have a reason to complain.

4. Mask the ugly. No one wants to live next to a junk yard. Keep your garden tools neat and your compost bin neater to give the right appearance.

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5. Sweeten the deal. A carton of eggs or jar of honey can go a long way to smooth over negative feelings across a fence.

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