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Earth Science

Conservation Communities Takes Root Across US 116

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kate Murphy reports at the NYT about a growing number of so-called agrihoods, residential developments where a working farm is the central feature, in the same way that other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center. At least a dozen projects across the country are thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food. 'I hear from developers all the time about this,' says Ed McMahon. 'They've figured out that unlike a golf course, which costs millions to build and millions to maintain, they can provide green space that actually earns a profit.'

Agritopia, outside Phoenix, has sixteen acres of certified organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep). Fences gripped by grapevines and blackberry bushes separate the farm from the community's 452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation. The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffeehouse, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand. The square is also where residents line up on Wednesday evenings to claim their bulging boxes of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey, which come with a $100-a-month membership in the community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program.

'Wednesday is the highlight of my week,' says Ben Wyffels. 'To be able to walk down the street with my kids and get fresh, healthy food is amazing.' Because the Agritopia farm is self-sustaining, no fees are charged to support it, other than the cost of buying produce at the farm stand or joining the CSA. Agritopia was among the first agrihoods — like Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.; Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Ill.; South Village in South Burlington, Vt.; and Hidden Springs in Boise, Idaho. 'The interest is so great, we're kind of terrified trying to catch up with all the calls,' says Quint Redmond adding that in addition to developers, he hears from homeowners' associations and golf course operators who want to transform their costly-to-maintain green spaces into revenue-generating farms. Driving the demand, Redmond says, are the local-food movement and the aspirations of many Americans to be gentlemen (or gentlewomen) farmers. 'Everybody wants to be Thomas Jefferson these days.'"
The city of Detroit is planning a 26.9-acre urban farm project on one of its vacant high school properties. Produce from the project will be included in meals for students in the district and later to the larger community.
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Conservation Communities Takes Root Across US

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  • Not that bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2014 @08:38PM (#46479057)

    You can't FEED that many from that small a block, but all the small luxury veges yes, you can do that.

    Herbs, tomatoes, lettuce. They aren't talking bulk rice/wheat/potatoes, just the extras which make that carb loaded crap edible ;)

    BIG cost savings if you eat a lot of veges, because the luxury stuff costs much more than the staples that provide most of the calories.


  • Re:454 / 16 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @09:49PM (#46479407)

    Hmm, 452 families, $100 each per month. So they're taking in better than $540K a year for the produce from 20 acres?

    A professional farmer might make $17K on the same land (assuming he's growing corn, at average production levels and prices).

    Sounds like quite a scam to me. Where can I get in on it?

  • Re:454 / 16 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hax4bux ( 209237 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @09:56PM (#46479451)

    Same here (but 10 acres, mostly oat hay). This is more like performance art than farming.

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer