When Stephanie Walsh and her husband were looking to buy a home in Atlanta, GA, they had a pretty unusual set of qualifications for their new home: They wanted to have access to local, organic produce (and not just from the grocery store); they wanted a neighborhood that was easily walkable; and they wanted to be true friends — not just smile and nod acquaintances — with their neighbors. “We looked at a lot of homes, and I just wasn’t connecting,” says Walsh.
On a whim, she searched the internet for “ecofriendly neighborhoods near Atlanta” and happened upon the website for Serenbe, a community of 270 “green” homes and 30 retailers planned around a 25-acre organic working farm and 15 miles of trails. “I fell in love immediately,” she says. They’ve now lived in Serenbe for over four years, and Walsh says they hardly ever leave.
“We have everything we need, and we’ve made so many connections in the community. It truly is a place to build a family.” Serenbe is what’s known as an “agrihood,” a community that is usually planned around a farm and offers access to unblemished landscapes, locally grown food, and homes built to environmentally friendly standards.
One could argue agrihoods are a distant cousin of the golf club communities that sprang up en masse in the ’90s (both offer carefully planned, community-style living), but they are vastly different. “Younger buyers want nature, walkability, and local food rather than golf, so farms within neighborhoods is a more attractive offering,” says Monica Olsen, VP of marketing at Serenbe and herself a resident.
And real estate development trends show this theory is bearing out. In addition to the thriving agrihoods already in existence such as Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, IL, Agritopia in Gilbert, AZ, South Village in South Burlington, VT, and Hidden Springs in Boise, ID, agrihoods are currently being built on Bainbridge Island, WA, in Asheville, NC, Orlando, FL, and Union Township, OH, where 60 buyers have already put down $1,000 deposits on homes in the proposed Aberlin Springs agrihood, the first phase of which is set to open in 2017. But is an agrihood right for you? It could be if the following factors appeal to you.