Give Me Land, Lots of Land

Get back to nature with this Fountain City cottage

Within minutes of City Council's initial vote on the ordinance allowing chickens within city limits, the clucking had already begun—tongue clucking, that is, from the perennial naysayers in the News Sentinel's online comments, who started running on and on like their heads had been cut off. Urban chickens, according to the Sentinel's sage commentators, are a communist plot somehow connected to Obama and the red-light camera companies (although, based on my occasional perusal of the paper's online comments, most things are).

In reality, the desire for fresh eggs in the city is part of a growing movement aimed at reintegrating agriculture into American life. And the fact that it's largely center-city dwellers pushing for the return of chickens isn't all that surprising, either. Sustainability tends to be second-nature to folks who fix up old houses. And they naturally abhor the vacuous monoculture that not only fills supermarket shelves but also fills historically productive farmland with the tract homes those supermarkets serve. Oh, and many of those tract house subdivisions have covenants banning backyard gardens, much less chickens.

Local ordinances aren't the only obstacles budding locavores face. Urbanism and gardening can go together, but the more urban the area, the bigger the gardening challenge. Knoxville's relatively low density does help, however. Loft dwellers may have to make do with rooftop or balcony containers, but most of Knoxville's "urban" neighborhoods are made up of detached homes on lots. And, since most center-city lots are 50 feet wide and 100 feet to 150 feet deep depending on the neighborhood, there's just enough room to meet the 10-feet-from-the-property-line setback requirements written into the chicken ordinance. Whether that leaves much room left to grow veggies varies, however, depending on what else you do in the backyard. If you've got a garage and a swing set, things will get pretty tight pretty quick.

This place on Woodfern in Fountain City offers a fine compromise. Like many of the old roads out past I-640 and left off Broadway, Woodfern developed as a street of big bungalows and colonials set back from the road on large lots. This well-renovated colonial cottage comes with a 139' x 253' corner lot. Even partially wooded, at more than two-thirds of an acre there's plenty of room for planting. And the house itself has lots to offer, too. There are historic features like hardwood floors, arched doorways, and a wood-burning fireplace plus updated baths and an upstairs deck. m

4805 Woodfern Road

2,741 sq. ft.

5 bdrm, 2.5 bath

$239,900

Contact: Shannon Foster

Coldwell Banker: 693-1111