“More than 150” agrihoods in the United States

Find the true suburban ideal of combining urban and rural life by moving to a new “agrihood”:

At the center of Olivette is a 46-acre organic farm that’s already growing salad greens, root vegetables, tomatoes, squash, berries, and Asian pears. Beehives are producing honey, and there are plans to add chickens, as well as goats to help trim the grass. All this creates a bucolic setting, but the farm isn’t just there to look pretty. Olivette’s early residents are already swinging by the packing shed to pick up baskets of fresh produce grown right here—just one perk of living in an agrihood…

There’s no question the farm is the star here. Interest from potential homebuyers has backed up Scott and Allison’s idea that people are ready for a closer connection to the land. “Typically, the highest value property is always on the water,” says Scott. “But here, so far, most people have been interested in buying home sites that are by the farm, even more so than down by the river.”…

Despite the focus on open space and sustainability, no one will be living in hippie deprivation at Olivette. Buyers choose a lot and then work with a building company to customize and build their home. The high-end houses, all of which are held to the gold standard of efficiency and are heated by geothermal wells, start at $650,000, well over twice as much as the county in general…

This interest in living in nature is creating a bumper crop of agrihoods. According to the Urban Land Institute, more than 150 have sprung up all over the country. “It’s a strong trend,” says Allison. “There are so many more now than there were three years ago when we started this project. Even some golf communities are looking at transitioning to agrihoods, but of course they’ve put so many chemicals into the ground that it’s tricky.”

Not surprisingly, this amenity of living next to or in a neighborhood with a farm comes at a price.

I wonder if part of the appeal of the farm is the reassurance that the agricultural land will be protected from further development. Many a suburbanite has moved into a neighborhood with the expectation that the field/open space/park next door will remain that way only to find that several years later new homes are going up on that space. It would be interesting to see how exactly the farmland is guaranteed to be farmland in the legal documents.

I would guess these sorts of communities would attract the same kind of critiques that have dogged suburbs for decades: this is still a wasteful use of land with the emphasis on large single-family homes, the residents are not truly committed to agriculture but want the experience or boost to their property values that a nearby farm provides, and the nature the residents encounter through the farm is not the same as truly open space and the farm exists in a commodified form.

 

One thought on ““More than 150” agrihoods in the United States

  1. Pingback: Why Americans love suburbs #7: closer to nature | Legally Sociable

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