The suburbs have become dead places that are not environmentally friendly and lack community. Because suburban dwellers need cars to get to their urban jobs, and because household members are gone most of the time, there is a very big disconnect is these vast housing tracts. There is no common ground for neighbors to get together and bond over.
That seems to be coming to an end!
The 21st century suburb will be centered on agriculture, green space and community. It feels to me like an old-fashioned post-WW2 neighborhood where you knew all your neighbors. Adding farms and land conservation to that atmosphere will change the landscape of suburban America. Maybe it will revert it back to what it was originally supposed to be!
One farm to table development
Agritopia® is a development in Gilbert AZ outside of Phoenix that has a farm at its core. They have their own weekly farmers market and a CSA that members can buy into. Extra produce is sold at area markets and a couple dozen restaurants. As the farm makes money, it becomes sustainable. It pays for itself, and the community gets to take advantage of its bounty without having to do backbreaking and time-consuming farm work. This also gives residents flexibility to travel for leisure or work.
The design of the neighborhoods fosters community. There are pathways linking all the amenities, such as the farms, gardens, schools, parks and a commercial area with their own restaurant and coffee shop. The high-density housing and pathways make a walkable community. Visit with friends or go to the farmers market or coffee shop all on foot!
A local family originally farmed the land, and as Gilbert grew in the 1990s, the landowners decided to combine housing and agriculture for a cutting edge development. Agritopia® was born on 160 acres southwest of Phoenix close to shopping, medical services, universities, colleges, and airports. Agritopia®’s restaurant, Joe’s Farm Grill is in the original family home and serves food from the farm. Farm to table takes on a new meaning!
The future suburb
This is the way of the future. Local food and simple living are things most people want now. We are going back to the basics in our lifestyles. This was partly caused by the crashing economy six or seven years ago when we all had to rethink our lives and cut back on extravagances. Then we started to learn about how polluted our food system is, and we wanted fresher, healthier food. Thankfully, we are headed back to a more connected, realistic, healthy way of life.
Developments like Agritopia® are cropping up around the country, and I think this sets an excellent precedent for future development. Just like we want green building features to be mandatory through zoning and building codes, agriculture should be mandatory in all new development, too. Instead of a money and energy wasting golf club, put in a farm that feeds the residents and creates an income for the community. Is that trendy? I hope not!