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Sustainability, kids among reasons some Bloomington residents apply for chicken coops

Free-range chickens feed in a pasture where Todd Vincent and a partner farm organic chickens near Dawson, Ill.
Seth Perlman
Free-range chickens feed in a pasture where Todd Vincent and a partner farm organic chickens near Dawson, Ill.

Sustainability was a key word at Wednesday's Bloomington Zoning Board of Appeals meeting where four petitioners applied for chicken coops.

It was an odd item on an otherwise regular agenda. Prior to the first meetings on chicken-keeping by the ZBA in June, there had been only five applicants for a coop since 2019. Now in one stroke, there were four.

Bloomington resident Erik Goshorn was one of the petitioners. He said owning chickens, something he will be doing for the first time himself, will help create a more independent food track.

“I think that this would be a way for us to take another step toward sustainability, and to gain respect for what it takes in order to get food,” said Goshorn.

He also sees it as a teaching moment for his two young boys.

“Teaching the boys how to grow their own food, teaching how to preserve food and to make use of the things we used to throw away has been the objective [of raising chickens],” said Goshorn.

Children were mentioned multiple times as reasons why the Bloomington citizens want to raise chickens. Take Danielle King, for example. King previously lived in Charleston where, unlike Goshorn, she gained plenty of experience raising chickens — 50 of them to be exact.

But her motivation and Goshorn's motivations for raising chickens in Bloomington do overlap: it's about the kids.

“It teaches (our kids) where their food comes from, and not that you just walk into Walmart and get your eggs,” said King. “We just plan on teaching our kids a little sustainability.”

Another petitioner had a different reason from the rest — her mental health.

Larissa Langellier, who earned a degree in animal science from Illinois State University, recently went through postpartum psychosis and dealt with depression and anxiety, she said. She underwent lithium treatment, but it didn’t help. But caring for chickens did.

“I got off of all my anxiety and depression medications. I no longer have to take them,” said Langellier. “And when I’m stressed, again I know it sounds silly, I go sit out in my coop with my chickens and just de-stress for a little bit.”

All four chicken coop petitions were approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Bloomington City Council is expected to vote on the matter next month.

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Jack Podlesnik is a student reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
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