The United States is experiencing an increasing awareness to live a healthy lifestyle and a major part of this cultural shift is eating healthy. There has been a steady increase in demand for organic foods. Studies show a majority of U.S. adults are buying locally grown fruits, vegetables and organic foods of some kind because of health concerns. The country’s inadequate access to fresh, affordable food has sparked a movement of urban farming called ‘Agrihoods’ where people are embracing the idea of growing food locally.
In addition to contributing to a healthy diet, locally grown food is healthy for local economies, reduces pollution by decreasing the travel distance from farm to plate, and reduces food safety risks associated with food transport. The food is also fresher and tastes better.
The local food movement is spreading quickly. The USDA has reported an increase in farmers markets listed in the National Farmers Market Directory, going from about 6,100 farmers markets in 2010 to over 8,600 today. This shows an increasing demand for local produce in communities across the nation.
How can food inspire future communities?
Growing food, Growing Community
KTGY’s R+D Studio explores an infill version of the ‘Agrihood’ concept as a solution for residential development that supports sustainable food systems and aims to cultivate community through infill farming.
To create enough open space for a small working farm on an infill site, clustered homes with a modest footprint preserve enough land for farming, common open space, and private yards. Landscape design is a key element to create a pleasant walking experience and aims to promote interaction among neighbors and foster a strong sense of community.
Incorporating a working farm within a residential community can present challenges, but there are few farm models to choose from depending on the needs and goals of the residents. Both models listed below involve a third party to work and maintain the community farm. They also aim to create a relationship between the farmer and the community and support a sustainable food system that promotes healthy eating and healthy.
COMMUNITY SUPPPORTED AGRICULTURE:
Consumers subscribe to a harvest of a certain farm or group of farms and in return receive a box of produce or other farm goods on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.
URBAN FARMING VENTURE:
A third party organization that designs, installs, and maintains urban farms. Scheduled farming service also includes pest and disease control and harvesting.
Living a healthy lifestyle is living in a healthy community. Historically, food has been a way to bring people and communities together, so designing a food centered residential community seems to be a natural next step. Developing a community that appeals to people with an excitement for locally grown, fresh, healthy food is one solution that serves a segment of the population and also serves the surrounding neighborhood by providing a much needed convenience while fostering relationships throughout the community.
Social Gathering Space
The Commons building serves as a central hub for the neighbors and provides multiple functions for the community. It offers an office for the third party farmer, storage for farm equipment, and a community kitchen with large outdoor gathering space for neighborhood and community events.
Food Oriented Community
The community farm not only provides residents with fresh, healthy food but also creates an opportunity to educate the community about sustainable food systems and benefits of a healthy diet. Growing food is a way to connect people with the land, their food, and each other.
By detaching the parking, vehicular paths are minimized, the community becomes more walkable and neighbors are encouraged to interact. The lush landscaped paths help to create a pleasant walking experience which include edible paseos containing fruit trees, edible flowers, and berries. Landscape markers help to identify the edible plants and reinforce the idea of food education.
The entry court is a welcoming space for the residents and surrounding community. It offers guest parking and doubles as a larger space for resident gatherings, Farmers Market or Food Co-op. The open breezeway through the Commons Building offers a peek of the farm from the street and acts as a gateway into the project.