Mixing homes and agriculture in suburbia

| by Teena Hammond
Mixing homes and agriculture in suburbia

The hot trend in the suburbs is to mix homes and agriculture. In a movement propelled by environmental concern, nostalgia for a simpler life and a dollop of marketing savvy, developers are increasingly laying out their cul-de-sacs around organic farms, cattle ranches, vineyards and other agricultural ventures, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Forget multimillion-dollar recreation centers — "our amenities are watching the cows graze and the leaves change," said Joe Barnes, development principal for Bundoran Farm, a 2,300-acre development set amid apple orchards and cattle pastures outside Charlottesville, Va.

"Agriculture is the new golf," said Ed McMahon, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit group focused on land-use planning.

The trend has its roots in the growing distaste for prototypical suburban sprawl: mile after mile of look-alike homes broken up by the occasional park. The sustainability movement, with its emphasis on conservation, preservation and local food production, has helped, too. Then there's the fact that the U.S. already has thousands of golf-course communities, so developers looking to set their subdivisions apart need a new marketing hook.

Serenbe, a 1,000-acre sustainable community in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., has adopted some of the barncomponents of a suburban utopia. In addition to a 70-acre organic farm at the heart of the development, nearly 70 percent of the public landscaping in the latest Serenbe village also consists of edible species. "We walk down the street and grab blueberries off bushes," said homeowner Tom Reed. The challenge, he said, is "remembering to leave some for other people."

At Serenbe, which is 30 minutes from Atlanta, residents mingle at the local coffeehouse, participate in art events on the weekends and support their community's thriving theater program. The homes are energy efficient, and there's a solid focus on well being, balanced growth, sustainability, green building, organic farming and making smart environmental decisions. There's even a horse stable to give residents an opportunity to spend time honing their equestrian skills.

For more information, see our Sustainable Communities research center.




Topics: Sustainable Communities

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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