In­dian Head woman pro­motes sub­ur­ban home­steads

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By SARA NEW­MAN snew­man@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @in­dy_­com­mu­nity

Yvonne Brown wants her fam­ily to live or­gan­i­cally and un­der­stand where their food comes from. In an ef­fort to keep costs low, she has cre­ated her own sub­ur­ban home­stead in her back­yard com­plete with a gar­den and chick­ens. The re­wards far out­weigh the — lim­ited — costs, she says.

“I want to feed my fam­ily healthy but I also want it to be eco­nom­i­cal,” Brown said. “I can have fresh eggs ev­ery day from these chick­ens I only paid $15 for, plus the chick­ens are su­per fun. I re­ally en­joy gar­den­ing and teach­ing peo­ple they can do this them­selves.”

Brown doesn’t live on a farm and in­sists that any­one — even apart­ment dwellers — can find space in their yard, home or win­dowsill to grow their own food. Her back­yard in her In­dian Head neigh­bor­hood has a chicken coop on one side and a siz­able gar­den on the other com­plete with straw­ber­ries, var­i­ous types of toma­toes and greens, pep­pers, a rasp­berry bush and an ap­ple tree among oth­ers. She also has herb pots on her deck with dif­fer­ent types of basil, cilantro and some­thing called fish pep­per: dis­tinc­tive plants that have a his­tory of be­ing the “se­cret in­gre­di­ent” in seafood dishes pre­pared by African-Amer­i­can slaves.

“These plants have sto­ries,” said Brown, who shares her home with hus­band David and three chil­dren. “I love show­ing my chil­dren that we planted this seed and this is what hap­pened to the fruits of your la­bor. There are ed­u­ca­tional lessons in gar­den­ing and grow­ing your own food.”

Though In­dian Head has not yet made it le­gal for res­i­dents to have chick­ens, the idea has been talked about for ap­prox­i­mately two years and will be a part of the town’s zon­ing or­di­nance in about six months, ac­cord­ing to In­dian Head Town Man­ager Ryan Hicks.

“Cur­rently it’s against the law for some­one to have them,” Hicks said of the town’s cur­rent po­si­tion. “[But] if some­one has them it’s kind of hard to en­force know­ing that they’ll be al­lowed soon.”

Brown said when she orig­i­nally added the chick­ens to her home­stead, she had a dif­fi­cult time find­ing a straight “yes” or “no” an­swer from the town about whether they were per­mit­ted. Now she says she wants to do what is best nu­tri­tion­ally and eco­nom­i­cally for her fam­ily in her own home while re­main­ing a good neighbor.

“I went to go give [my neighbor] some eggs to apol­o­gize when we ac­ci­den­tally had a rooster that was loud and they hadn’t even no­ticed we had them, so they had no idea what I was talk­ing about,” Brown said. “… I re­al­ized a lot of the things peo­ple think about chick­ens, about them smelling bad and be­ing a lot of work, are not nec­es­sar­ily true.”

Brown said her chil­dren — Yas­mine, 14, Ge­or­gia, 4, and Alden, 2 — also love help­ing her in the gar­den.

“Alden loves chas­ing the chick­ens and Ge­or­gia loves be­ing in the gar­den with me. Yas­mine also helps but was more into it when she was younger,” Brown said. “The kids have their own gloves, tools, bots and al­ways want to be out there with me.”

The chick­ens and gar­den fit into the fam­ily’s life­style and goal of liv­ing as sus­tain­ably as pos­si­ble. They also have so­lar pan­els in­stalled on their roof and Brown uses re­us­able prod­ucts such as cloth di­a­pers and nap­kins, and avoids buy­ing plas­tic when­ever pos­si­ble.

“There’s al­ways some­thing you can do,” Brown said. “It’s a con­scious thought when I buy some­thing. I think about the pack­ag­ing and if there’s an­other op­tion.”

She’s pre­sented at var­i­ous con­ven­tions such as Mom­myCon and oth­ers for those in­ter­ested in sus­tain­able liv­ing. Pre­vi­ous talks have taken her to New York and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and Brown has up­com­ing en­gage­ments in Bal­ti­more and Or­lando, Fla. She’s also in the be­gin­ning stages of start­ing a gar­den con­sult­ing busi­ness where she will help clients de­ter­mine what can grow in their space and help them grow their veg­eta­bles and herbs.

“I want peo­ple to know that no mat­ter where you are, you can do this,” Brown said. “For a while I just had stuff on the deck and be­fore that the win­dow sill… I want to teach my chil­dren how they grow their food and how we treat our chick­ens mat­ters.”

To find out more about Brown and her home­stead mis­sion, go to dabrown­stead.com.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY SARA NEW­MAN

Yvonne Brown of In­dian Head works in her back­yard gar­den. She has been grow­ing veg­eta­bles and re­ceiv­ing eggs from chick­ens in her back­yard for years as part of a sus­tain­able life she and her fam­ily live.

Yvonne Brown said she re­ceives about one egg per day from each of her three chick­ens which she says is enough for her fam­ily and is less ex­pen­sive from buy­ing or­ganic, free-range, non-GMO eggs from a store.

Yvonne Brown of In­dian Head added chick­ens to her sub­ur­ban home­stead in an ef­fort to feed her fam­ily the type of eggs — or­ganic, free-range, non-GMO — she wanted while sav­ing money.

A straw­berry be­gins to grow in Yvonne Brown’s gar­den. She has been grow­ing fruits, veg­eta­bles and herbs in her gar­den and re­ceiv­ing eggs from chick­ens in her back­yard for years in an ef­fort to live sus­tain­ably with her fam­ily.

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