Harvest Home

By Christina Birchfield | 1/3/2014

We used to refer to salad days. Maybe now consumers are wanting to live closer to the salad in true locavore spirit.

 

Are the days of golf course communities coming to an end? A National Public Radio (NPR) story reports that communities are now clustering around farms, existing or invented.

Livestock, vegetables, and fruit trees are the latest suburban community amenity. Ed McMahon, a fellow with the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Washington, D.C., told NPR that the community movement is called “development-supported agriculture, a more intimate version of community-supported agriculture—a farm-share program commonly known as CSA.” And he says that it is becoming more mainstream with more than 200 developments nationwide.

National Public Radio (NPR) also reported on some of the people who are ditching golf courses in favor of the farm and the communities to which they are moving.

There are many models on how to make such locavore production work. In some cases, HOA fees support the farm, community garden, orchard, livestock and the like. In the same manner as a food co-op, residents may get a share of the harvest, a discount or simply access to really local food. Sometimes, houses are adjacent to and overlook an existing farm.

Think about what happens if golf courses lose favor; we already know that many of the people choosing to live in golf course communities do so for the natural views and don’t even play golf.

Will we see greens become pasture? Or fields? Or orchards? "Golf courses cost millions to build and maintain, and we're kind of overbuilt on golf courses already," McMahon says. "If you put in a farm where we can grow things and make money from the farm, it becomes an even better deal.”

For example, there is the 240-net-acre (300-gross-acre) Bucking Horse Farm, in Ft. Collins, Colo., so named because it is bucking a trend. Developer Gino Campana feels that his integration of agriculture and housing is a new model that will both attract those who already live healthy and spur on those who need some encouragement.

Jessup Farm Artisan Village is the commercial space at Bucking Horse Farm. Work is under way to rehab the historic barn, farm house, saddle shop and chicken coop. Plans for the Village include a farm-to-fork restaurant, wine maker, coffee roaster and yoga studio.

There are goats and chickens, a plaza for the farmers’ market and the community center will offer canning classes. NPR called the neighborhood plan “infused with the quaint, pastoral, even romantic view of farming.”

Campana would disagree about the quaint and romantic. When the chickens have finished their egg laying cycles (roughly two years), the chickens are harvested. In other words they become dinner. And many communities have pocket parks, in addition to those, Bucking Horse Farm has pocket fields. Imagine, he says, your child watching the pumpkins grow in the pocket pumpkin patch, and then getting to pick one to carve for Halloween—well, maybe that is somewhat romantic. At Bucking Horse farming will be done by pros and not simply rely on those who like to garden for a hobby.

One of the companies helping individual homeowners, institutions and developers farm is Agriburbia, Golden, Colo. “Turf is expensive,” their Website reads. “Agriburbia is serious agriculture done in the communities that purchase the production. It is beautiful, efficient and sustainable. Planned, designed, installed and operated by professionals, Agriburbia offers landowners options balanced for effort and payback.” The company operates farms within suburban developments across the country. It even incorporates solar and geothermal into its mix of offerings.”

Many individual homeowners and communities already hire professional gardeners. Why not hire landscape farmers to create, care for and harvest edible landscapes?
 

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