Although the term is relatively new in Canada, Agrihoods have been popping up all over the US. As the rapidly growing crop of agrihoods in the US demonstrates, families are eager to reimagine these collaborative efforts in a new setting–often at the same or lower prices than a traditional suburban neighborhood.
Of course, community gardens, urban agriculture, and cohousing communities are nothing new in Canada, linking new residential developments to farming such as in Agrihoods are.
When you think about it, building communities around farms makes sense. In fact, it’s what we used to do before we could drive everywhere to get all of our food essentials. These sustainable communities which are pedestrian-friendly and not only promote fresh eating, but also better connection between neighbors, aren’t simply forward thinking, they’re applying concepts that our forefathers used but that we have long forgotten.
Have access to fresh, locally grown food, be able to walk to the post office and enjoy ample outdoor space; isn’t this what suburbs ought to look like? The developments aren’t just idyllic, there’s also an economic benefit for developers. “They’ve figured out that unlike a golf course, which costs millions to build and millions to maintain, they can provide green space that actually earns a profit
Working Farms? Homes surrounding these farms. Farms surrounded by communities …To some including myself, this sounds like paradise. Enter …Creekside Mills the first of its kind in Canada, that I know of anyway.
At the Creekside Mills at Cultus Lake, the attraction is a working farm, some of it Agricultural Reserve Land (ALR) that surrounds the 129 detached houses.
Some recreational developers link real estate to golf courses, others to skiing, water sports or tennis courts.
“We’ve incorporated 10 acres of recreational agricultural land where homeowners can enjoy an edible landscape including a community garden, fruit orchards, livestock area, berry fields, and then sell the fruits of their labour at our farmers market or bring it back home to eat,” explained Steven Van Geel, sales director at Creekside Mills at Cultus Lake and founder of Frosst Creek Developments.
The inspiration for Creekside Mills is an 80-acre family farm that had operated for 50 years near Cultus Lake. Only a small portion of the land was in B.C.’s ALR. Frosst Creek purchased the farm and was allowed to take the 4.4 acres out of the ALR, but replaced it with about 10 acres that is now deemed agricultural land.
“We have incorporated the ALR land around the development,” Van Geel said, referring the concept as an “agrihood.”
Creekside Mills, a bare-land strata, gated community, will also have full time staff to maintain the farmland and lifestock, and will offer educational programs and workshops to children about raising plants and animals. Residents will be encouraged to harvest fruit and vegetables, operate their own community garden and even get fresh eggs from a hen house, Van Geel said.
“We want to bring the farm back to life,” he said.
While linking new residential developments to farming has been done in the United States, Van Geel said Creekside Mills is the first such project he knows of in B.C.
The project’s strata fees are around $180 per month, which will help pay for the farm operations, a recreation centre and community swimming pools, according to Van Geel.
The plan is to roll Creekside Mills out in two phases over the next two to three years, with the farm maturing around it.
“I was raised on farm,” Van Geel said, “and I think a lot of families would like their children to experience it.”
According to a 2014 study conducted by Surrey-based Fifth Ave Real Estate Marketing Ltd., 80% of respondents found the concept of recreational agriculture as an attractive amenity they would want near their home.
So far, six homes in the first phase have sold – two of them to young families – though the official sales launch won’t be held until mid-October. Prices for two-bedroom ranchers start at $500,000, with two-storey, three bedroom houses from $600,000, Van Geel said.