Building suburban subdivisions around farms, CSAs, and food production

Over 200 new subdivisions feature a new amenity that the neighborhood is built around: a farm or food production operation.

It’s called development-supported agriculture, a more intimate version of community-supported agriculture — a farm-share program commonly known as CSA. In planning a new neighborhood, a developer includes some form of food production — a farm, community garden, orchard, livestock operation, edible park — that is meant to draw in new buyers, increase values and stitch neighbors together.

“These projects are becoming more and more mainstream,” says , a fellow with the Urban Land Institute. He estimates that more than 200 developments with an agricultural twist already exist nationwide…

After World War II, Americans escaping crowded cities flocked to the suburbs. Most suburbanites didn’t want to be right next to a farm, and so restrictive zoning pushed livestock and tractors out of new residential areas. Now, says Lindsay Ex, an environmental planner with the city of Fort Collins, municipalities are being forced to change their codes…

The marketing of these new neighborhoods appears to be working — at least at Bucking Horse, where the developer says 200 single-family lots were snatched up within days of going on the market. Values of existing homes have jumped 25 percent since construction began on the agricultural amenities.

My question: does supporting a local food source within your suburban subdivision offset the evils of sprawl and suburbanization? A farm might help mitigate the results of sprawl including needing to drive for food (now it is closer by, maybe walkable), there is open space (though it is used for food production – so a different version of “fake”/human-influenced nature), and farms can help provide a center for community life. On the other hand, such developments take up more land, it is unclear how productive or effective the CSAs are (they may not have to be that productive – as long as the neighbors like it), and this still skews toward wealthier residents who can afford the land and the setting (price premiums to live near a farm, just like living near a golf course?). In other words, is this just another suburban trend that is primarily available to certain middle- and upper-class Americans so that they feel better about their food sources and being green (neither of which are necessarily bad things)?

Combine these farm ideas with New Urbanism or retrofitting existing developments that didn’t work out and there could be some interesting outcomes here.

One thought on “Building suburban subdivisions around farms, CSAs, and food production

  1. Pingback: The new suburban crisis is… | Legally Sociable

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