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Marc Mindy
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Location: South Boston, Massachusetts
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Hi:
So, a recent topic that came on my radar was this concept of "Agrihood". Essentially a planned community centered on a farm, rather than the other popular HOA type where houses ring a golf course. I have mixed feelings on this, and was quite curious what other people thought.

Mindy
 
John Weiland
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Marc, What are some of the mixed feelings that you have on this?

IMHO, the social/psychological aspects of such a venture will be your greatest hurdles. Much like the commune concept of this past century, the division of labor, priorities of the agrihood, and dissemination of the harvest/resources will be crucial issues. "Primitive" tribes did this well due partially to blood relationship and desire to see the tribe survive. Bringing people together on the intellectual premise of the "agrihood" will have much poorer grounding, but possibly doable nonetheless.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Village Homes in Davis, CA is sort of an agrihood, or rather, permihood. I think the biggest problem they've had is people don't eat or use enough of the fruit. So they have tons of fruit lying around. http://geofflawton.com/videos/make-food-forest-suburb/

 
Casie Becker
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Actually, I'm don't know much about how planned communities around golf courses work. Do the surrounding home owners have anything to do with running or maintaining the golf course? Otherwise, I could see this potentially being very successful. The farm would still be owned and run by the farmer who would be perfectly situated to market his product to the surrounding community. Nothing would force them to do this, but it could be fiscally sound. Saving money from reduced transportation, and being able to grow more gourmet varieties that can't survive long transport could raise his profit margin while also raising the quality of foods available in the community. If there was surplus, being a business owner, the farmer would probably look for additional markets rather than leaving the excess to rot in the field. Of course, this all depends on the idea that the centering farm is a private property rather than a communal space. Am I misunderstanding something obvious here?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think if it were a community planned around a farm, there would have to be some sort of built-in support for the farm, such as an HOA fee which is actually a CSA share, mandatory for all the surrounding properties. People wouldn't be obligated to pick up their shares, but they would be obligated to pay the fee so the farmer who is the center of the community would have a guaranteed income for farming. If people fail to pick up their shares, the farmer could use the excess to sell or feed to livestock, etc. He would not be obligated to waste it. What I'd want to see is this kind of guaranteed support for the farmer, so he wouldn't be abandoned if the neighbors decide they'd rather buy their food at the store for some bizarre reason.
 
Casie Becker
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It would certainly make more sense than most HOA fees and requirements. I've got friends who have to hide their vegetable garden. They helped a friend of theirs do an emergency fence repair to hide another vegetable garden after a windstorm blew down the original fence.
 
Marc Mindy
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Location: South Boston, Massachusetts
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In part I posted the topic because I have a little trouble fleshing if out. Maybe because I think, boy it seems like a good idea, and then instantly look for the flaws? Rather than accept it may just be a good idea?

I think that most golf course communities are (gated) HOAs with the golf course a separate business entity. I can see how this model could work with a farm. Especially in the heart of a gainfully employed (since they can afford a house) community who presumably inherently likes the idea of ag and fresh local food. A csa would be an easy sale.

The negs to me would be if it becomes a commjne, which is not a concept I particularly care for. If it is more like recreating a "town" of yesteryear, I like it.

Maybe the young/beginning entrepreneurial farmers out there should reach out to their local developers about this concept?

Btw: interesting bit on "too much fruit to eat"!

Mindy of The Walking Herbalist
 
Todd McDonald
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Location: Mid-Missouri
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Hello Marc Mindy and All,

I am a real estate developer currently doing research and looking for land for this concept to implement here in Missouri.

The negs to me would be if it becomes a commjne, which is not a concept I particularly care for. If it is more like recreating a "town" of yesteryear, I like it.


I am trying to avoid the commune feeling by having each person/family own their lot/house just as in every other neighborhood in America. This also makes it easy for people to get loans to purchase lots/houses because it is a concept that banks understand. Not trying to reinvent the wheel here. Additionally no required labor hours or anything like that.

It would certainly make more sense than most HOA fees and requirements. I've got friends who have to hide their vegetable garden. They helped a friend of theirs do an emergency fence repair to hide another vegetable garden after a windstorm blew down the original fence.


HOA's certainly get a bad rap and for good reason, but in reality the HOA regulations are really just a reflection of that community's values. In this way, someone who believes that their neighbors should not have grass over 6 inches tall and should never have a tomato plant where anyone could see it (gasp clutching string of pearls), can live with other like minded people. An HOA designed with regulations that reflect permaculture values can have an overall positive effect. For example, HOA regulations preventing your neighbor from spraying persistant herbicides all over their place only to have it blow over the fence on to your garden. And HOA documents are a legal structure that banks, county officials and people understand.

I think if it were a community planned around a farm, there would have to be some sort of built-in support for the farm, such as an HOA fee which is actually a CSA share, mandatory for all the surrounding properties. People wouldn't be obligated to pick up their shares, but they would be obligated to pay the fee so the farmer who is the center of the community would have a guaranteed income for farming. If people fail to pick up their shares, the farmer could use the excess to sell or feed to livestock, etc. He would not be obligated to waste it. What I'd want to see is this kind of guaranteed support for the farmer, so he wouldn't be abandoned if the neighbors decide they'd rather buy their food at the store for some bizarre reason.


Here is how I am currently approaching this. The HOA, which is by definition a non-profit corporation, owns every part of the farm that is not individually owned lots. The HOA leases the farm, or any part of it, to the aspiring farmer. Farmers lease land all the time for crops and grazing and this would be an arrangement familiar to farmers. The lease would require the farmer to use organic/permaculture practices. My hope would be that the lessee farmer is a person who actually lives in the neighborhood but that doesn't have to be the case.

Still looking for the right piece of land and doing research in the meantime. I hope to begin implementing this concept very soon.
 
Krystina Szabo
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I have 200 very nice acres in southern Virginia. There is a (very small) state road running into it, which could be made into a semicircle and back to the main road, providing plenty of home sites on that road. Nice, high land. Lots of forest surrounding the pastureland. Long frontage on the main road. A 55-gallon per minute well and a 45-gallon per minute well. Really. Something to think about. Also In Search Of: agriculturalists to live in 2-bedroom home on farm, help out to defray rent, and either work part-time, work in town or engage in a profitsharing farm business (of their choice.)
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