Are Agrihoods the Future of Small Midwest Communities?

25 Jul 2018, Posted by Kelvin Heck in Agrihoods

Are Agrihoods the Future of Small Midwest Communities?

It’s the middle of July, the middle of the crop growing season here in the Midwest. It’s been hot. It’s been dry. Trade tariffs have knocked 20% off of soybean prices since Memorial Day. There are hopefully better days ahead, so let’s talk about something totally different—agrihoods.

Yes, agrihoods.

They are a relatively new concept in residential development that marries housing with farming in a quasi-urban setting. If you think of a traditional golf course development popular in the 70’s – 90’s, just replace the golf course with an agricultural use, and you have an agrihood. They are loosely defined by the Urban Land Institute as “master-planned housing communities with working farms as their focus, agrihoods have ample green space, barns, and outdoor community kitchens. Some boast greenhouses and rows of fruit trees. The homes are typically built to high environmental standards — think solar panels and composting. Agrihoods are designed to appeal to young, active families who love to eat healthy and spend time outdoors — and they’re not off the grid.”

Agrihoods are a manifestation of a growing movement embraced largely by millennials, but also every other age group from Baby Boomers to Gen Z’s to favor pedestrian friendly residential environments that focus on the farm-to-table movement, but also include elements of work and recreation. Agrihoods appeal to families who want to live and raise their children where they can not only have fresh food, but understand the sources of the food they eat, and even participate in the farming activities that produce the food. The agricultural component will vary depending on what is most appropriate for the area. It could be a vegetable farm with a Farmer’s Market. It could have a livestock component, depending on local zoning ordinances, with chickens, sheep, goats, or beef and dairy cattle. Some have restaurants and craft galleries. Others have extensive trail systems and “healthy” retailers like bike shops and yoga studios.

Most of the existing agrihoods have been built near large population centers, but as they become more mainstream, we could see more developments in smaller communities, possibly even like Lawrence, Kansas. Given the strength of the Downtown Farmer’s Market, The Merc grocery store, and the youthful age of our population, Lawrence and other college communities might be likely places for agrihoods to develop. For additional information and examples of existing developments, check out the two links below.

 

If any of you would like to hear more about this or other topics discussed in our blog, I would welcome the opportunity to meet you for coffee or lunch—feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email, and we’ll make that happen.

 

Image courtesy Charter for Compassion