Agrihood Communities Redefining ‘Homegrown’ Food

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The farm-to-table movement in restaurants is nothing new, and farmer’s markets are thankfully popping up in neighborhoods both big and small. So, what is the newest way to continue to bring the goodness of a local farm directly to the community? Agrihoods.

Agrihoods: Your food now has a home too

Produce from Serenbe Agrihood

Image courtesy of Serenbe (Instagram)

That’s right. The hottest trend in housing development is to purposely build homes next to a large farm that benefits the entire neighborhood. Not only do agrihoods provide an even deeper sense of community for those fortunate enough to live in an eco-friendly planned community, but it also brings the farm-to-table movement one step closer to your kitchen counter every night. By placing an emphasis on growing food in the community, agrihoods reduce food waste associated with transportation (not to mention food is fresher and sources are more transparent).

In agrihoods, farms are the amenity that homeowners pay for, not tennis courts, gyms or community pools. That is not to say that carefully planned out agrihoods do not have community clubhouses, scheduled activities or other benefits that homeowners are used to in traditional housing developments. The focus, however, is in coming together as a community over the shared love of food and healthy living.

Do you have to farm in order to live in an agrihood? Absolutely not. Many agrihoods do allow the ability to tend to the land, but usually it’s not required. It is a perfect set up for busy adults who love to garden, but can’t keep a garden thriving on their own because of work demands or frequent travel.

Imagine walking to the farmer’s market and knowing that all of the food was grown just a few blocks away. Or think about getting your community supported agriculture (CSA) share and having had the opportunity to water the tomatoes that your neighbors will be eating for dinner. Consider what it would be like to know the person who is growing your food on a first name basis. Those are the main benefits of living in an agrihood.

Americans are moving to agrihoods in droves, whether it’s parents desiring a more nature-based upbringing for their kids, environmentalists seeking an eco-friendly community or foodies longing to be closer to the land and the harvests that are reaped. The concept that used to be so rare less than 20 years ago is now popping up everywhere across the country.

Agrihoods from coast to coast

Jalapanos from Serenbe Agrihood

Image courtesy of Serenbe (Instagram)

Case in point? The Serenbe agrihood outside of Atlanta put up 20 lots for sale when they were first starting out. Every single lot sold within 48 hours.  Hours – not days!

Today, the Serenbe agrihood has grown from 60 acres to 1,000 acres with a 25-acre organic farm, as well as walking trails and horse trails. There are 200 homes in the agrihood which keeps growing, and will soon house 1,200 residents. The farm is tended to by a professional farmer – the residents don’t have to do any dirty work unless they choose to. Check out this video from CBS Morning detailing the Serenbe agrihood community.

Skokomish Farms in Union, Washington sells large land sites to homeowners in exchange for land protection and a chance to be a part of the CSA.  The former hay farm is segueing into becoming an organic farm. The 40-acre land sites are sold with the agreement that five acres are provided for any sort of home to be built, with the remaining 35 acres of the land parcel under perpetual conservation. The 17 families living in the agrihood can choose to farm if they want, or leave it up to the farm manager. All residents can earn or purchase the crops at cost.

The conservation community of Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois is situated around a 100-acre organic farm. The farm not only grows produce and provides pastured free-range eggs for the community, but also reaches into the greater Chicago area, too with its educational programs and selling food. The agrihood has 359 single-family homes, along with 36 condominiums. A charter school provides natural environment-based education for elementary school age children, emphasizing the area’s prairies and wetlands.

The Cannery Agrihood

Image courtesy of The Cannery (Instagram).

The Cannery in Davis, California promises that every home – 547 to be exact – is within 300 feet of a park or a trail. Created on a former tomato cannery site, the environmentally focused vision of the agrihood provides not only a 7.4 acre community farm nearby, but also a 1.5 kV photovoltaic solar system with every single home along with wiring for electric vehicles. Residents can even choose to upgrade to become a net zero home. The Town Center will sell the produce from the Urban Farm to homeowners in The Cannery, as well as the Davis residents.

Agritopia is surprisingly found in the middle of the urban sprawl of Phoenix, Arizona, just two miles from the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The community has 16 acres of certified organic farmland where residents will find produce, fruit-producing trees, chickens and sheep. In addition to the 452 single-family homes on the 160 acre site, there is also an assisted- and independent-living center. The farm provides the food for the CSA program, as well as a farm-to-table restaurant in the agrihood, and around 20 chefs in the area.

Willowsford, located outside of Washington D.C. in Virginia, has more than 300 acres of land set aside for raising livestock, as well as cultivating more than 150 types of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers sold through a CSA or farm stand. The 4,000 acre community has set aside half of the property to be protected for conservation, or to be used for recreation or agricultural purposes. Among the amenities of the four villages that comprise Willowsford are plenty of parks, treehouses built for kids, and 40 miles of trails, along with community clubhouses featuring traditional amenities such as yoga lawns, pools, fitness center and fishing areas.

Kukui’ ula in Kaui, Hawaii combines luxury custom homes worth millions with a farm providing fresh produce and organic eggs. A chef on property prepares meals from the land, and a juice bar in the development uses produce grown on-site.

Agrihoods don’t have to be pricey, although many do command top dollar for the homes situated on such a thought-out piece of land in a carefully designed community. For instance, the average home in Serenbe sells for $700,000.

Would you consider living in an Agrihood? Do you currently live in one? Share your thoughts with our readers below!

Feature image courtesy of Megan Sparks (Agritopia) 

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Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit KimButton.com for more information.

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