Fencing can be an effective way to keep intruders and animal pests from entering an urban farm, but fence height and material should be considered carefully. Each fence style sends a certain message. Tall, chain-link fences provide a lot of security, but can be viewed as harsh by the community. Lower, less harsh fences, such as vegetative barriers, provide less security, but can help to foster community involvement and support.
Urban farmers must also take into account municipal ordinances, which might also regulate the height and material of fences. Many cities, for example, prohibit the use of chicken wire, wire mesh, or similar material for permanent fencing, as well as the use of barbed wire, broken glass, electrification or other device or material intended to cause injury.
Cities also limit fence height, often with different regulations for residential and non-residential districts. Check your city’s ordinances online at websites such as General Code (https://www.generalcode.com/) and Municode (http://www.municode.com/), or contact your city hall or website.
Other fencing considerations are cost, durability, and attractiveness. Fencing can be constructed from a variety of materials, from living material such as fruit trees or shrubs to cedar posts to salvaged materials. See Factsheet #29, Affordable Supplies, for a listing of re-use or salvage stores.
GrowNYC offers a factsheet on bollards and fences that includes information on ensuring that fences are securely placed. Find this and other publications at http://www.grownyc.org/openspace/publications.
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