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By Janis Mork

May 11, 2013 (El Cajon)- Last month, the 20th Annual Spring Garden Festival took place around Cuyamaca College and the Water Conservation Garden.  Kids and parents got an up-close look at chickens, bees, bountiful gardens and much more during this free event. The theme centered on “Urban Farms and Gardens.”

This year, the festival had experts on raising urban chickens, beekeeping, and vegetable gardening, as well as garden professionals, a plant sale, animal encounters for kids, live music, nature-oriented craft items for sale, and many free lectures and presentations throughout the day.

ECM interviewed Dragan Giurici from the San Diego Beekeeping Society. Currently, they have [over] 700 members.

“Anyone can join for $20 a year,” noted Giurici, who brought along an exhibit of live bees. “Meetings are every second Monday of the month 6-9 p.m.” Bees, honey and pollen are very important to a person’s health because “it gives you lots of vitamins and minerals,” he added. 

Bee ownership is legal in many East County communities as well as San Diego, though there are rules and regulations to follow. 

ECM also interviewed a few people from the San Diego Sustainable Living Institute. Yael Zaldman advised that urban chickens are “very popular [and] growing a lot.” There are many advantages to raising your own chickens, including: “fresh eggs, fresh manure, companionship, composting.”

Hilary Kearney added, “They eat the leftover food.”  

Raising chickens is now legal in San Diego and Santee, while El Cajon is working on changing regulations and La Mesa is considering amending its general plan in the future to allow ownership of hens.

For more information about raising chickens, visit: http://sdsustainable.org.

For more information about the San Diego Beekeeping Society, visit: http://www.sandiegobeekeepingsociety.com.

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