Ever wake up and feel overwhelmed by the color gray? Gray skies, concrete buildings, cars, and roads made up the backdrop of my 26 years living in Columbus, Ohio. While I’m blessed to now live in a city that has sunny days at a rate higher than Columbus’ 50% average, in many ways I still feel like I’m living in grayscale surrounded by a concrete jungle.
This fact has been made even more apparent as I’ve learned more and more about where food comes from. The cities that myself and billions of other call home will house an expected 68% of the global population by the year 2050. Think about it—this means that the majority of the world’s eaters will live a world away from places of production, that is where all the fruit, veggies, nuts, grains, and animals are grown and raised for consumption.
I’m no urban planner but as sometimes the stretch to grab my ringing phone seems too arduous, I think it makes far more sense to keep these areas of food production much closer to the people who consume said food.
Duh duh-duh duhhhhh (enter agrihoods, stage left)
I know I’m someone who can’t help but whine about all that is wrong in the world of food, so it’s nice to actually talk about the solutions that address some of today’s biggest problems. In fact, just reading the Wikipedia definition of “agrihood” makes me feel all warm and tingly inside.
You may daydream about shoes and fabulous vacations, but right now my mind is drifting off to a backyard full of kale and sunflowers—where neighbors exchange more than just cups of supermarket-bought sugar and flour—a world where instead of looking down at the pretend-super-important message on our phones while we walk down the street, we spend our evenings outdoor working with our neighbours to make the world a better place.
So where is this daydream of mine a reality? Let’s take a tour around the world to some of the most drool-worthy agrihoods:
Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia
Recognizing the problems caused by urban sprawl, Steve Nygren and Marie Lupo Nygren set out to fix, among other things, how divided communities had become. With an initial plan to save the world—starting with their own backyard—the couple can now be credited with more than 650 residents living in Serenbe’s four hamlets.
Serenbe offers a lot— from spas and trail walking, to film events and festivals. But what gives it its agrihood classification is the 25-acre organic farm and unique placement of blueberry bushes and other edibles along its many paths.
Located just outside of Atlanta and with an emphasis on biophilia that truly connects its residents to nature, this community leaves absolutely nothing to be desired.
Durham County, North Carolina
Wetrock Farm is in a class of its own as an agrihood—it will be the first one running wholly on the power of the sun. Just 15 minutes away from all the conveniences found in Durham, this nearly-completed development changes what it means to be off-grid.
The 230 acre community prides itself on being able to grow “farmland and community together” and it will do just that with sustainability as a priority. Touting modern LEED-certified homes, organic produce, unique community areas, and seemingly endless outdoor areas to explore this place seems to offer all that you would need for a healthy, connected way of life. Oh and did I mention that you can choose between four boroughs and live amidst farmland or surrounded by vineyards? I think I may be dreaming.
This “development for the active elderly” takes retirement to a whole new level. At Yangcheng Lake Island Senior Housing, residents will not only have access to abundant green space, but will also be invited to participate in growing their own food. Several plots have been designed to produce food for not only the residents—but also for an on-site restaurant.
Notoriously polluted, this little slice of heaven has been designed to incorporate the fundamentals of a healthy life—clean air, clean water, fresh food, and social cohesion. While its residents will be the main participants in the food-growing activities that take place, the wellbeing benefits will extend beyond, to the local community as well.
Cumming, Iowa (coming soon!)
With entry barriers to farming including capital, customers and land, investment and development company Diligent Development is blurring the line between residential real estate and agriculture and creating a win-win world for farmers, developers, and the larger community. Awaiting the green light from Cumming City Council, the proposed 400-acre, $260 million project will potentially be the (notoriously conventional ag loving) state’s first agrihood—including 700 homes, as well as an organic farm, vineyard, and orchard.
Hungry for these types of ‘hoods
Literally a groundbreaking idea, here’s a few ways agrihoods are (fingers crossed) becoming the way of the future:
- Say buh-bye to golf courses. Challenging the idea that high-end homes have to be within earshot of “fore!” the agrihood will instead position homes around beautiful orchards and lush gardens.
- Trading devices for direct contact with nature. What better way to get children outdoors than to have nature at the doorstep? The food-growing areas will be designed to be the perfect backyard play place for the young residents.
- What better way to learn and eat? These communities are designed with food as the focal point. Not only will agrihood residents get delivered CSA products, but they’ll also get to see how beans and tomatoes grow—right at their doorsteps.