Over 200 Agrihoods have either popped up or are in the development pipeline throughout the United States’ suburban and urban areas. From Atlanta to Phoenix to Detroit to Santa Clara, Agrihoods are slowing becoming the choice model for the once cookie-cutter housing plan. In the late 1950’s and 60’s, land developers realized they could charge a premium on housing and land development for neighborhoods designed around a golf course or country club. What resulted was a community with ubiquitous housing, lack of walkable streets or communal meeting places, and a surprising majority of residents who neither golfed or used the community clubs.
In the past 20 years, forward-thinking land developers realized the growing trend of community members wanting to connect with their food supply, nature, and each other. Instead of charging a premium on houses adjacent to golf courses, developers were able to capitalize on a model called development supported agriculture which placed houses and people around a working farm which reconnected them with food, the land, and neighbors while managing to make it financially lucrative for themselves.
Agrihoods range from microhoods, which consist of a dozen or less houses surrounding a smaller working farm or community garden, to 100-acre working farms with livestock, nature reserves, and hiking trials. No matter the size, Agrihoods have a profound effect on its participating members. It creates decentralized local food sources which provides more secure work for farm managers. It creates a participatory avenue for those who want to become more hands on with their food supply. It creates a community for those who yearn for one. It’s more of a ‘Supporting the Joneses’ instead of keeping up with them.
The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is a completely volunteer run 501(c)3 which turned a three-acre plot previously littered with abandoned buildings and vacant lots into a two-acre, 300 crop urban farm in North Detroit which aims to empower its community.
Willowsford Farm in Ashburn, VA is a suburban community that takes farm-to-table to a new level. Their 300-acre working farm alongside their 4,000-acre nature reserve is the focal point of their community. It provides health and wellness programs, educational youth development opportunities, and a chance to participate on the farm.
Sendero Farm located in South Orange County, CA ties together the amenities and luxuries of a suburban planned community with a farm which depends on it’s 30 families to share in the harvest and work. A community which was built on agricultural work now returning to its roots.
From a decentralized standpoint, Agrihoods provide more than just housing and food. It provides an investment opportunity for land developers, a more intentional way of controlling your food source, and develops a symbiotic relationship between living in a city and reconnecting with nature. With the cultural shift of becoming more involved with the food we eat and how it’s produced, Agrihoods are a clever incentive to live a healthier lifestyle. Could it possibly be that we have the capacity to create Blue Zones everywhere we go?