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garden communities
Garden communities, known as agrihoods, are growing in popularity.

Gardening Communities are Growing

We are loving this! Bet you will too! Imagine seeing a growing trend of neighborhoods built around gardening! If you love golf, that’s great. But for gardeners, the idea of an entire neighborhood built around gardening instead of golf… a garden community, is not just inspiring, it’s hopeful!

Imagine the possibilities. Neighbors sharing gardening knowledge, seeds and other resources. Block parties could include selling produce, seed swaps, food swaps, sharing propagations, cuttings and so many other possibilities.

Reinventing Communities into “Agrihoods”

One of our favorite movies, The Hundred Foot Journey, based on the book by Richard C. Morais, takes place in the provincial French village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val near the Pyrenees mountain range.

If you haven’t seen it, do. We loved it enough to see it more than once in order to share the experience with friends.

The story is wonderful and heartwarming (no spoilers!) and what also proves quite charming is the village itself with its stately architecture, the town square , the riverside bikeway, and the bustling farmer’s market with gorgeous (presumably) locally grown produce.

The film glowingly portrays the simple life of a small town, where residents need not load up their carts and coffers at a “modern” supermarket or warehouse discount store, but rather, they grab their basket and make their way to the market to select the freshest produce for the day’s meals. Such a lovely setting has likely sent more than one viewer to search out that little village, and perhaps, even to ponder what it would be like to live there.

Garden Communities,
Provincial French village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val near the Pyrenees Mountain Range

Growing Food and Growing a Community Way of Life

Relative to real life, it’s wonderful that we’re beginning to see garden communities springing up around the concept of a food gardening lifestyle. Instead of neighborhoods built around golf courses, imagine the central focus of the neighborhood being food gardens and sustainable permaculture yards and landscapes. That’s a beautiful image with so many wonderful side benefits.

We have nothing against golfing, but we’re not golfers. As gardeners who love the freshest organic produce possible, a garden neighborhood would have so much more appeal to us, and what a healthy, solution-oriented concept, to so many of today’s societal ills and challenges.

There’s an extraordinary story that speaks to this concept in Malcolm Gladwell’s famed book, Outliers, one of our favorites. In it, Malcolm unfolds the fascinating story of the Rosetans who founded and settled in Roseto, Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s. The town of Roseto had the garden community lifestyle that contributed to exceptional health. None of the residents had any kind of heart trouble. Many people long for a return to simpler ways. Evening strolls and porch swing conversations… meals from the garden and neighbors sharing harvests.1)

Some of you may remember the TV series, Cheers“A place where everyone knows your name.” That’s a vision we have of the ideal garden community.

Neighborhoods where people know one another by name.

Garden communities, Philip Lange photographer
Community markets can be an enjoyable social outing for selecting from fresh local grown produce.

The Springing up of Garden Communities

Lo and behold, a phenomena along these lines is beginning to take shape here in the US and Canada, where “agrihoods” are springing up all over. Land developers who are known for bulldozing farm fields are now touting properties built on or near working farms, where residents can lay out their own garden spreads or join in self-sufficient community food production.

Gardening has grown over 17% from 2008 to 2013.

It’s no wonder, really– given stats from 2013, the National Gardening Association found that gardening has grown over 17% from 2008 to 2013. And further research over the same time period reveals:

  • 1 in 3 households are now growing food – the highest overall participation and spending levels seen in a decade.
  • Americans spent $3.5 billion on food gardening in 2013 – up from $2.5 billion in 2008 – a 40% increase in five years.
  • 76% of all households with a food garden grew vegetables, a 19% increase since 2008.
  • From 2008 to 2013 the number of home gardens increased by 4 million to 37 million households, while community gardens tripled from 1 million to 3 million, a 200% increase.
  • Households with incomes under $35,000 participating in food gardening grew to 11 million – up 38% from 2008.2)
  • Approximately 75% of American household engage in some form of gardening and yard activities. There were 6 million new gardening households between 2014 and 2015. Millennials are leading the growth in the gardening arena. One million of those were millennial households between the ages of 18 and 34.3)

Millennials are rocking  gardening growth!

community gardens, garden communities
Farm to table… garden to fork.

Given the rising tide of interest in “garden to table”, locavore, organic, urban gardens, suburban homesteads, healthy/fresh food production, and the like, it’s no surprise that more and more garden communities or “agrihoods” are being built around working farms and garden spaces rather than golf courses.

Garden communities, agrihoods
Living and working in a garden community… what a wonderful way to live and work!

Retiring “Baby Boomers” and young parents alike are finding that intimacy with the land and its bounty may not be as far away as Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. It might just be in their own backyards.

One of the beautiful things about communities built around gardening is how it doesn’t have to be age specific. It can be, but gardening is something that can involve all generations and provides a common purpose that bonds all ages and backgrounds, and it’s beautiful to see.

garden communities, children gardening, kids in the garden
Kids who grow up gardening learn so many valuable lessons and skills.

If you’re as interested as we are in this growing “agrihood” and garden community trend, you will also enjoy these articles. – 12 Agrihoods Taking Farm to Table Living Mainstream4) – To Lure Homebuyers Developers Use Farms and Vegetable Gardens5) – Welcome to Agrihood, Homes Built Around Working Farms6)

And for the direct link to a large community well under way, you will enjoy

So much potential… so many solutions7) and new businesses8) just from gardening!

Let’s get growing!

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