Living on the 18th hole of a golf-course community was once considered the epitome of luxury and affluence. But today, some homeowners are putting down the golf clubs to five downwind from a barn instead. This new residential development model is springing up across the U.S. and focuses on modern, luxury living in a comfortable, spacious and sustainable community.
There are several labels that have been attached to these communities such as development-supported agriculture (DSA) or “agrihoods.” In essence, these are neighborhoods and housing developments built around working farms.
Some amenities that can be found in an agrihood include stables and equestrian centers, horse riding trails, hiking or walking trails, many types of sports facilities, community pools, playgrounds, fishing ponds, a farmer’s market, and event facilities.
Agrihood communities strive to provide as much energy on-site as possible through the use of wind, solar and geothermal energy, typically at least 70 percent. Homes are healthier and high-performance, built using the latest technology and green building practices.
The main difference from a suburban neighborhood is that in a DSA community, there is a commitment to preserve some of the rural land for agriculture. The kind of activities that might take place in a DSA include farming, establishing community gardens and orchards, livestock or poultry operations, or even the creation of an edible park. The idea is to attract buyers and allow neighbors to form a community based on the farm-to-table concept.
The benefit to residents includes farm-fresh produce, milk and other dairy products, country-side views and the chance to eat locally. There is little or no carbon-expen-diture when bringing the food to market, because neighbors may be able to walk to the farm to get what they need. People in the community have access to the freshest of food and know exactly the methods used to produce the food.
The sizes of these sprawling farm communities varies, but they all have hundreds of acres or more. Homes are typically built on about one acre or larger. There are many architectural styles and sizes for homes found in agrihoods, ranging from cottages to country estates.
Homeowners will typically pay association fees for yard upkeep, the working farm and community amenities.
Not all residents or even most residents of agrihoods work the land themselves. Some may volunteer to do so, but many community members are content to enjoy the natural setting, experience a healthier lifestyle that may result from fresher or sometimes organic food, and the opportunity to get directly in-volved with food cultivation if they choose.
In some agrihoods, community-supported agriculture (CSA) is available as a may to participate in the yield from the farm. Using this concept, a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the residents. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products (eggs, milk, etc.) may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
For those who subscribe, the advantages include ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits; new vegetables and new ways of cooking; and the opportunity to develop a connection with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.
Access to a farm-land community doesn’t necessarily come cheap. One developer noted that homes in the community sell for an average of $700,000. Another builder offers homes with price tags that start at nearly $1.5 million for a 3800 square foot, five bedroom, and 4.5 bath home.
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