There has been a growing trend and interest over the last years in urban gardening. Backyard vegetable gardens are popping up everywhere and people have also started raising their own chickens and turkeys.
The movement is largely driven by greater environmental awareness as well as a desire to know and control more what is in the food we eat. By growing (and raising) the food by yourself you regain some of the control of what you eat (watch the movie Food Inc.)
This greater desire often runs into local zoning issues. Most of us now live in urban areas and lot sizes are getting smaller and smaller. While a vegetable patch in your backyard usually is fine, anything alive that is not a cat or dog could quickly get you into trouble with your neighbors or whatever jurisdiction you live in.
Below are some of the general requirements to keep chickens in urban areas of Northern Virginia. These do change from time to time, so please confirm information with your local jurisdiction. Also, your property association may have further restrictions (many newer ones specifically prohibit keeping fowl, rabbits and any kind of livestock in your yard.)
Chicken over 2 months old are classified as Domestic Fowl and are only allowed on lots of 2 acres or more. Chicken Houses cannot be closer than 100 feet from the property line. A permit is required if your property is less than 2 acres.
Chickens in Your Backyard | Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (fairfaxcounty.gov)
Falls Church City:
Must be 40 feet from a residence and requires written permission from the city manager.
Chickens are allowed on properties zoned R1 and R2. No closer than 100 feet from a property line.
Your neighbors may wonder what the noise in your backyard is – but if you share your bounty you may make a city farmer out of them too!
Sources and more information: