Welcome to the Agrihood
Farming is central to a new breed of planned community
At the corner of New Urbanism and the local-food movement, a new type of neighborhood is rising: a tight-knit community built around an organic farm. With dozens of these communities filling up fast and hundreds more in the planning stages, “agrihoods” are one of the success stories of the postcrash housing market.
An agrihood is a planned development combining clustered houses and broad natural landscapes with farm-to-table living. It includes markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA) pickup points, community kitchens, and classroom areas, as well as miles of walking trails—all places for people to meet naturally and share experiences.
Developers are catching on as farm-based communities generate headlines, which drive brisk sales and a 10% to 25% premium in home prices. Developers also like how the clustered housing and amenities can mean millions of dollars less for streets and sewer lines.
Younger homebuyers, more interested in healthy food and hands-on living than golf courses and suburban sprawl, are drawn to the walkability and sense of community in these developments. Baby boomers, feeling nostalgic for simple pleasures that were common not so long ago, are flooding in also.
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” says Katie Critchley, who lives with three generations of her extended family in three homes at Agritopia, a 160-acre development in the Phoenix metro area.“Most people who live here want to know each other and support one another. The accessibility of the farm and services makes it a convenient way to live, so we have more time to focus on our relationships.”
Developments that preserve natural areas have been around since the 1960s. “Open space is cheaper than golf courses,” says Ed McMahon of the Urban Living Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based thought leader on housing and land use. “The initial idea was to use the marketplace as a…