The United States is experiencing an increased awareness of healthy lifestyles, and a major component of this cultural shift is healthy eating. There has been a steady increase in demand for organic foods. Studies show most 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?

The Patch 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.

Small Home Design

Efficiency is key in designing homes with small square footages to maintain the functionality and livability of the space. Living spaces are kept to a modest size and plumbing fixtures are kept to a minimum to help lower building costs. The homes also offer a variety of floor plan designs to meet the different needs of potential home buyers.

Living in a community of clustered homes is most successful when there are layers of privacy transitioning from public spaces to private ones. Each home is set back with a private porch, stepping down two risers to an entry yard, then to the public paseo.

Cultivating Community

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.