Inside the Phoenix metro area is a 160-acre residential community known as Agritopia. The central feature is a certified organic farmland spanning more than 11 acres. Here, residents can eye fresh produce to see what’s ripe for picking. There are artichokes, zucchini, tomatoes, olives, carrots, kale, and grapevines…over a hundred varieties of fruits and veggies. The farm also has rows of fruit trees, livestock, and even bees. Much of the produce is meant for residents, many of whom prefer to savor the bounty at the chef-run restaurant within the community.
Agritopia represents a growing trend – agrihoods. These are agricultural neighborhoods where local farm produce is just a few steps away from your front door. Agrihoods are built around a working farm, and appeal to the needs of active families who love to eat healthy and spend time outdoors.
There are 450 homes in Agritopia, with prices averaged at $400,000 as of March 2018 – according to real estate database website Zillow.com.
On the South Shore of Hawaii’s oldest island – Kaua’i – is the upscale community of Kukuiula. The resort has a 10-acre farm wonderland where homeowners can pick their own tropical fruits, citrus, seasonal herbs, vegetables, greens, and even fresh flowers. Hired help is used to maintain the farm so residents don’t have to worry about planting and weeding. There are al fresco diners and cooking workshops where resident chefs teach homeowners how to turn the bounty into goodies. Kukuiula is an upscale agrihood with home prices ranging from $1.5 million to $15 million.
Farm-to-table becomes mainstream
Agrihoods are firmly rooted in the farm-to-table movement. This basically refers to food made from locally-sourced (mostly natural and organic) ingredients. Farm-to-table restaurants are everywhere from small rural towns to large cities. In 2016, Menus of Change highlighted a trend where entire restaurants are putting ‘plants first’ in their food as the most prevalent for the year. As the vegetable-forward movement continues into the future, we’ll see further narrowing of the gap between the farm and the table.
Agrihoods are cropping up all over the country
Agricultural neighborhoods – agricultural residential communities that essentially take farm-to-table to the next level, are springing up everywhere.
In the New York Catskills, about 2 hours’ drive from New York City is Hudson Woods. This is a 131-acre agricultural community encompassing 25 nature-inspired homes. Home owners can purchase upgrades to have maple trees planted and cared for. Residents can also collaborate with local sugar firms to have their trees tapped for their own batch syrup.
“They can take in the experience without going through all the steps themselves,” Drew Lang, the developer behind Hudson Woods, told the Wall Street Journal.
Silo Ridge is an 800-acre development located in the Hudson Valley, New York. Homeowners here have access to a 2-acre organic garden. Beehives, chickens, and goats are being added this year. And a cookery school will show kids how to mill their own flour and make a variety of bites.
In Atlanta, Georgia, the 1000-acre Serenbe community is one of the largest agricultural neighborhoods in the country. Over 60,000 pounds of produce is harvested annually from the community’s 25-acre farm. Much of the bounty goes to Serenbe’s 3 onsite restaurants. The community’s emphasis on agriculture, arts and wellness makes it a model example of the modern agrihood.
The South Village agrihood in Vermont is trapped between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain. It envisages two of state’s most revered traditions – open space and village living. Community gardens, paths for skiing and cycling, and an organic farm are some of the features that might attract potential homeowners to this community.
Aberlin Springs is an agricultural neighborhood that opened last year in Cleveland, Ohio. The community farm has vegetables, cows, sheep and chickens. There’s a farm store onsite selling meat, eggs, and produce. Home prices range between $300,00 to $650,000.
Other model examples of agricultural neighborhoods that are taking a lead in the farm-to-table movement include Hidden Springs in Idaho, Willowsford and Bundoran Farms in Virginia, and Skokomish Farms in Washington State.
In Western North Carolina, the Olivette community has a farm that grows greens, fruits flowers special produce and honey all year round. The bounty is delivered to local restaurants and community residents.
20 minutes outside downtown Durham (NC) – a new Agrihood is in the works. Wetrock Farms is a neighborhood of 141 homes with a 15-acre organic farm. Professional farmers will grow fruits and vegetables here, but local residents can participate at any level. The produce will be available for all through weekly deliveries. Once complete, homes will start at $300,000.
In 2017, property developer Lennar acquired 225 acres farm land near Apex for a planned agrihood community. The upcoming Smith Farms community will have 560 homes, with prices ranging between $300,000 and $600,000. A section of the property will be converted into a community garden for residents.
South Carolina’s First “Agrihoods?”
Closer home in South Carolina, Agrihoods are taking shape. The Cliffs Organic Farm serves residents of ‘The Cliffs’ (a collection of 7 premier communities in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina). Also known as the Broken Oak Organics, the 5-acre farm offers produce for local restaurants, and homeowners can stop by to directly purchase what’s ripe for the season every Wednesday afternoon. Homes prices here range from $500 to $4 million, with home sites start at $100,000.
In the Charming city of Greenville (SC) is the ongoing Net Zero Farm community. This is a microhood community with about 20 homes. It’ll offer walking trails, covered picnic space and organic gardens for residents. Homeowners will receive free vegetables with volunteer hours in the gardens.
More agrihood communities are expected in the region over the coming years as developers responding to the growing demands for sustainable, farm-centered communities. Meanwhile, residents of Greenville and other parts of Upstate South Carolina can own their dinner with a backyard garden. Plants that do well in the area include beets, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, Brussel Sprouts, cauliflower, Kale, and cucumber.
The Agrihood Residential Real Estate Boom
Agrihood communities prize space and nature over traditional luxury amenities. They seek to influence not just how members eat but also how they live. In some communities, residents get unlimited picking rights for berries, greens, and flowers. They may have tomatoes, zucchinis and other vegetables flourishing in their backyard and yet they are not exactly farmers. Planned communities centered around farms are the next stage in sustainable living.
When Nick Jekogian, CEO of Signature Group Investments, bought a 600 acres of tree-covered unspoiled land in California’s Monterey Bay, he realized that the property could the turned into something much more than the typical residential neighborhood. This was the inspiration for Walden Monterey, an ongoing community of 22 homes each occupying 20 acres of land. The views of centuries-old oaks and Zen meditation gardens serve the purpose of a town square. Walden Monterey will feature a treehouse for children, a nature trail, and an outdoor communal farm table. Once complete, each lot will sell for $5 million. Located close to Silicon Valley, the Walden Monterey agrihood community aims to give tech executives an opportunity to unplug from the daily grind.
In Palm Springs, California, a 309-acre now closed golf course is being converted into the region’s first agrihood. The Miralon agricultural neighborhood capitalizes on the farm-to-table movement, and is scheduled to open later in 2018. 1,150 midcentury-modern inspired homes – each designed to embrace the environment and all with solar panels – are being constructed on-site. The previous golf-cart road has been turned into a hiking trail, and the tee boxes will mark dog parks. Potential home buyers here will be treated to fresh-produced olive oil. Thousands of olive trees – some of which are already fully grown – will have the capacity to generate 15,000 gallons of olive oil each year. This is agriculture-oriented real estate at its finest!
How much value does having a garden add to a community?
Access to fresh and healthy foods is arguably the greatest appeal of agricultural communities. Younger homebuyers want local food and nature as opposed to the golf club communities that became insanely popular as a community ‘addon’ in the 1990s. Agrihoods also tend to draw residents and the community together as homeowners can form relationships around shared activities.
“We have everything we need, and we’ve made so many connections in the community,” Stephanie Walsh, a resident at the Serenbe agrihood in Atlanta, told Forbes.com.
Families can raise kids with increased awareness on the earth as well as healthy alternatives to the fast food, and property around agrihoods had a much higher resale value to compared to similar units in traditional suburban communities.
As agrihoods narrow the gap between developers and home buyers who value community, sustainability and food, there are benefits for both parties.
How much more does it cost?
Builders have known for decades that real estate with open spaces fetches higher prices. Traditionally, golf courses have been the primary option for developers to add value to a community. But as preferences shift and the farm-to-table movement grows, organic farms are becoming a more attractive alternative. Community gardens can be set up at a fraction of the cost of putting up a golf course (which usually runs into millions of dollars). According to the Urban Land Magazine, costs are comparable to those of setting up other kinds of green spaces (say for instance, landscaping). A 25-acre organic farm, for instance, can be started for well under $100,000. Once constructed, the garden is self-sustainable, with residents paying a small fee to benefit from the produce.
Homeowners, especially wealthy millennials, appear to be shunning golf communities once favored by baby boomers and instead going for the farm. As more people pursue an active lifestyle and develop a connection to their source of food, agrihoods will continue to catch steam.
Do you live – or would you fancy living – in an agrihood? Share your thoughts below!