It’s the newest trend in luxury housing: the “agrihood.”
It’s a new development of homes built around a working farm. But unlike most homes built around working farms, these are luxurious properties with price tags to match.
Forty minutes south of Atlanta sits Serenbe, in idyllic subdivision in the greater metropolitan Atlanta area, where many homes back up to a farm instead of each other.
Clay Johnson and Rosalyn Lemieux moved two years ago from Washington, D.C. to a five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Georgia in part for the close-knit community, but also for the food.
“I would say that maybe 80 percent of the food we eat comes from within a five mile radius of this house,” Johnson says.
The peppers on his countertop were picked about 50 feet away.
Johnson and his family aren’t doing the picking though—they pick up their food at long trips to the farmer’s market like everyone else. The 25-acre organic farm is a working farm, run by professionals.
“We had a friend from New York City come down here and ask if it was decorative,” Johnson says, adding that the friend thought the hay bales might be an art installation.
The community does seem like a set-piece in a way: It’s a carefully planned example of new urbanism, and a new way to think about housing developments, not quite traditionally rural but not quite suburban sprawl.
While most homes on and around farms are small and filled with farmers, these homes are filled with techies, desk jockeys and white collar workers who can afford the average $700,000 price tag—that’s five times more than the average of the surrounding area.
“People love the idea of sitting on their back porch and watching the farmers grow their food,” says Steve Nygren, the developer of Serenbe, along with his wife Marie.
Nygren grew up on a farm and, after owning several restaurants, bought a family farm in 1994 that eventually became Serenbe.
Today it comprises 1,000 acres and will soon have 1,200 homes. The homes are clustered in wooded areas surrounded by walking trails and horse stables. Restaurants, shops and lodging also embrace the agricultural lifestyle of the area.
There are now hundreds of these communities, with one popping up almost every week, according to Urban Land Institute researched Ed McMahon.
“Putting a farm in the middle of a development is relatively low-cost and it’s something that seems to resonate with lots of people so I think we’re going to see a lot more of these kind of projects going up forward,” he says
There’s the Cannery in Sacramento with a 7.5-acre farm; Prairie Crossing outside Chicago with a 100-acre farm; outside Washington, D.C. there’s Willowsford with a 300-acres set aside for fruits, vegetables, chickens and goats.
For the farmers working the land, there is a connection to the community. Ashley Rodgers, 29, says she knows most of the folks of the community
“They can come up to me and say, ‘Oh man I made that sweet potato last night,’ and that warms my heart more than anything,” she says.