During Friday’s Garden Writers Association conference in the Quad Cities, Iowa, author and urban planner Darrin Nordahl repeated a quote that has been floating around the blogosphere since it was first uttered in late 2008. “Agriculture,” according to architect and planner Andres Duany, “is the new golf.”
Duany’s point, echoed by Nordahl in his book on community gardening and his work with the city of Davenport, Iowa, is that a growing number of people are concerned enough about food safety and environmental issues that they are making bigger and bigger life decisions based on those concerns, including where they live. The word “farm” has been used to market housing developments over the years, in part because often the houses are built on a former farm. But a real, working farm with houses built around it is a newer approach to urban planning.
The closest example of this trend that I could find is located in Grayslake, IL, a western suburb of Chicago. The development, Prairie Crossing, has been around for about a decade and includes 350-plus single-family homes and now about 36 condos with an organic farm among its many amenities, including a shopping area, a train stop on the Chicago Metra line, a man-made lake, and many gardens and plantings. Prairie Crossing was founded in 1987, though developed a bit later, but it was largely sold before the current housing recession hit.
Given the housing market today, it’s unlikely many new homes will be built around organic farms, golf courses, or anything else for a several years. But it’s a trend worth watching.