Agrihoods: Urban Planned Communities

Creating neighborhoods through a sustainable lens is a fresh perspective on modern housing and gaining momentum as a green living trend. By respecting the land they’re built on, these planned agrihood developments are creating communities of like-minded people. These families understand the benefits of hyper-local produce while still enjoying the societal comforts of urban and suburban living.

“Creating neighborhoods through a sustainable lens is a fresh perspective on modern housing and gaining momentum as a green living trend.”

How Did We Get Here?

Advances in transportation, farm equipment, and synthetic fertilizers were all technologies that revolutionized agriculture. They created exponential growth in productivity and made large-scale farming economical. As farmers settled in vast swaths of land outside of urban areas, cities became dominated by commercialism and industry to satiate the public’s newest demand: convenience.

While there have been some brief reprieves from this trend such as
“Victory Gardens” during World War II, home gardens and local farms became an antiquated part of American culture in the second half of the 20th century.

The desire for convenience has unmistakably spurred innovations that have made our daily lives comfortable, safe, and relatively easy. However, some would argue that food – more specifically gardening and agriculture – is a missing puzzle piece to one of modern society’s most curious questions. What happened to the sense of community?

Today, families who feel “agrihoods” are the answer to this question are designing, building, and population a new type of neighborhood. This trend is providing opportunities for communities to come together – over real food.

“What happened to the sense of community?”

What is an Agrihood?

An agrihood (synonymous with an “agriburbia” or “agritopia”) is a community that takes on an alternative focus to regular neighborhoods. Instead of clubhouses, pools, and tennis courts, these neighborhoods prioritize sustainable agriculture. It is the centerpiece of a more evolved, connected, and fulfilled life.

In addition to feeding the community, these full scale farms are built as multi-use amenities. Barns double as event spaces, outdoor kitchens feed families, and farm-to-fork restaurants host neighbors on-site. There are communal efforts to pay respect to the land, lead healthy lifestyles with a smaller footprint, and use landscaping as a food source in contrast to water-hungry lawns.

Further, these neighborhoods often incorporate closed-loop methods of sustainability. Solar power, composting, and grey-water systems all contribute to a zero waste goals.

“These neighborhoods prioritize sustainable agriculture as the centerpiece of a more evolved, connected, and fulfilled life.”

Homeowners are increasingly drawn to these neighborhoods as a reaction to the inundation of convenience and lack of control over our food supply. Families have begun to question how their produce and meat is grown and sourced. We want to know where our food comes from!

In an article by Business Insider, there has also been a shift toward valuing experiences more highly than material possessions. Agrihoods can provide alternative ways to enrich relationships beyond living rooms and fenced-in backyards. Simultaneously, they provide deep satisfaction in maintaining, growing, and preparing fresh food. A true sense of pride can develop among the families and community as the allure of mealtimes is reignited!

Two Examples of Agrihoods

Agrihood projects come in many forms, from master-planned communities to restorations of abandoned, former industry. The Cannery is “California’s first farm-to-table new home community” located in Davis. It is a designed development in which residents can prepare dinner with vegetables they’ve grown themselves in the neighborhood. They can also raise their children under solar-powered roofs, and bike to town where locally crafted goods are sold.

In contract, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative has beautifully reclaimed soil under abandoned Detroit factories. Cultivating sustainable agriculture and housing, this urban agrihood hopes, “…to empower urban communities by using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity.”

“Sprouting up across America, agrihoods enable us to exist together as a society while treading lightly on our land.”

Many are discovering that these farm-centric neighborhoods can provide the perfect lifestyle balance. It is community with experiences, respecting the land and trusting your food sources, and living within reach of urban convenience. Sprouting up across America, agrihoods enable us to exist together as a society while treading lightly on our land.

From backyard gardens to designing your next agrihood farm, California Farm and Garden is also generating green spaces across Southern California and writing a new chapter in the sustainability handbook.