Urban and Suburbanites are Trading Their Golf Clubs for Gardening Implements!!

What’s an Agrihood? Just a hot new trend in sustainable living that’s redefining the farm to fork movement. Think of it as sort of a modern version of the hippie communes of the 70’s but you don’t have to join anything or change your religion. You don’t even have to get dirt under your fingernails unless you want to.

Agrihoods are small communities of typically 300-500 homes that are centered on a small working farm. There are over 200 of these self-sustaining enclaves around the country at present with many more in the planning stages.

Agritopia is one such Agrihood located within the urban sprawl of the Phoenix metro area. Its crown jewel is a 15-acre urban farm run by a professional, full-time farmer. Comprised of about 160 acres and 450 residential lots plus commercial and open space tracts, as well as agricultural, Agritopia, is preserving and integrating urban agriculture.

The extremely well thought-out “village-like” design is gridded with pedestrian paths and tree-lined (fruit and nut) streets and is very pedestrian friendly on the whole. The concept is that of a “principal-driven development” conceived to encourage real community by breaking down traditional barriers between folks of varied social, religious and economic backgrounds. Putting people and relationships ahead of money and trendiness with a focus on the richness of a simple life with friends and family.

The developers that planned Agritopia must have been inspired to eliminate features that tend to isolate people. You won’t find block walls, garage doors on the street, uninviting streetscapes or speeding vehicles. You will find homes with front porches and other social spaces, parks, walking paths, schools, community center, community pool and low, white vinyl fences that invite neighbors to chew the fat with each other.

Reducing physical barriers to relationship building works hand in hand with eliminating social/economic ones. Agritopia, considered a “new urbanist” community, offers a broad range of floor plans and prices to assure diversity. Many neighborhoods become demographically uniform because they tend to get “pigeon-holed” as areas for starter homes or families, retiree’s or yuppies. This is usually a result of limited offerings as far as home sizes, features, and prices. 

You definitely won’t be a happy camper at Agritopia or any Agrihood if you’re not into sharing. While some residents may have a private pool and large yard, most buy into the concept that sharing pools, parks, pathways and other public spaces bolster personal interaction. Besides being a more neighborly way to live, sharing also saves families money and precious time due to reduced upkeep. Schools and community centers also share parking and sports facilities for better economy and efficient land use.

Agrihoods like Agritopia generally tend to promote and encourage a simpler, healthier, more sustainable way of life. They aim to reduce some of the stress of modern living by encouraging sharing, reducing home maintenance, having easy pedestrian access to most needs, and giving Agrihood dwellers more free time for enjoying family and friends.

Let’s not forget the fresh, organic fruits and veggies you can get at Agritopia’s community farm store or the locally sourced meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. There’s also the Chef driven “farm to fork” dinners for occasional dining out at Joe’s Farm Grill, located in the home built by the Johnston family who had farmed the land since 1960 while raising their 3 sons.

Published by Bill Hoover