a beautiful day in the agrihood

In honor of the fall harvest, let’s talk about agrihoods, a communal system that integrates agriculture into (sub)urban neighborhoods. I wasn’t familiar with the term “agrihood” until I was introduced to the new Denver development in RiNo called S*Park, which features agrihood-style living. (More on that later.)

so what is an agrihood?

It’s an organized community that integrates agriculture — such as farms and gardens — into a residential neighborhood. The goal is to grant both rural and inner-city communities with the ability to supply themselves with sustainable and organic agriculture while simultaneously providing recreational purpose for members of the community. It’s a big step towards becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable. By incorporating healthy foods into developments, it feeds a food and real estate symbiosis that is a growing trend among developers. This new trend of moving to agrihoods has been noted by several sources to be more common among — wait for it — millennials.

Overall, this trend speaks to the positive role that food plays in culture and community ties. We see a new type of housing has blossomed once agriculture met the real estate industry. Enter: agrihoods.

a growing trend

There’s a new bullet point to add to buyer’s wish list: access to local, organic produce. It comes to no surprise as culture shifts to a farm-to-table lifestyle. Buyers, particularly youngers buyers, want nature in their backyard, easy walkability, the convenience of local, organic food all within the vicinity of the neighborhood. They also don’t want to trade in the city for sustainable living. Agrihoods answer this desire.

One could argue that agrihoods evolved from the golf club communities that reigned supreme in the ‘90s. Both offer carefully curated, community-style living with abundant amenities. Although agrihoods are amenity-rich in a new way beyond green spaces, views and a manicured golf course. They’ve turned golf courses into farms.

These “green” conveniences are lucrative and developers have taken notice. Developers have quickly caught on that meshing healthy foods and pristine natural surroundings, like a private park, can help raise sales rates and, in turn, revenues. This key factor of profit will help accelerate the demand for growing food locally, and more sustainably.

With this success and backing, Agrihoods are popping up not just around the United States, but also right here in Denver.

Take S*Park.

S*Park, also known as “Sustainability Park,” is a new millennium take on condo living. It’s a prototype of an urban agrihood community, with forward-thinking design incorporated into the built environment, amenities and lifestyle. The mixed-use community is situated in RiNo, where 91 contemporary condos center around a private park, an orchard, community garden and have direct access to fresh produce curated by Altius Farms.

The new word on the block is sustainable luxuries. These luxuries come into form as solar power, greenspace, composting, underground garage electric charging stations and access to farm-fresh food.

The goal of residents and the developers is to work towards making a minimal carbon footprint, and assisting with this cultural shift with ease. The centerpiece of agrihoods is agriculture, it’s built in the name. This also happens to be S*Park’s huge selling point with its connection to Altius Farms.

Altius Farms, you may have heard of their operation before. Altius is the largest vertical aeroponic farm in the United States, and they do supply delicious, fresh produce to the renowned, James beard winning restaurant Uchi that shares the same block as S*Park. Their 7,200 square foot greenhouse and 10,000 square foot outdoor farm allows for year-round organic food production, which translates to an exclusive vegetable and herb subscription program, greenhouse tours and community dinners with renowned local chefs. They are making hyper-local goods available for restaurants and residents.

We met with Co-Founder and CEO Sally Herbert, who ditched the corporate scene to focus her goals on bringing urban farming back into society’s (sub)urban communities. After teaming up with the progressive developer, Westfield Corporation / Jonathan Alpert, the vision came to life.

“Altius is located in an agrihood, and we consider ourselves very much a part of the S*PARK condo community offering resident raised beds for their food production, a garden area that can be rented for events, and a CSA share so that residents can have fresh greens and seasonal produce delivered to their doors,” says Sally. “This was a business decision because I believe that we need to change the way we grow our food and reduce the carbon footprint on greens imported from out of state.”

planting the seeds

Agrihoods are the new kid on the block. Get to know why you might consider moving in.

you’re looking for that small town feel

So you want the small town feel without the sacrifice. Agrihoods foster collaboration between the community. Get to know your neighbor in the private park, or volunteer to contribute to the farm.

you’re a locavore

You buy local whenever you have the chance from art, furniture, clothing to gifts. Insert hyperlocal produce and you’ll be hooked.

you fancy fresh food

Have you tried lettuce that was picked hours before prepping a delicious salad? Agrihoods truly embody the phrase farm-to-table.

you don’t like to leave home

More of the developed agrihoods, like S*Park, have retailers, restaurants and gyms on-site. There’s also scheduled community dinners, cooking classes and even tending to your own plot in a community garden. Why ever leave?

you appreciate a good return investment

If you do ever sell, these agrihood dwellings are lucrative. Since they are more exclusive (there’s only 150 communities and counting according to Multi-Housing News) you’ll likely make a good return.