The following is a guest post from Carmen and Tripp Eldridge from Arden.
Agrihoods Gaining Popularity as Americans Seek Healthier Lifestyles, Close-Knit Communities and Farm-to-Table Living at Home
Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, prolonged lockdowns and produce shortages have drawn people closer to the food they consume, pushing them to make use of their kitchens and to think more in-depth about where their food comes from. Meanwhile, agrihoods — residential communities that have agriculture incorporated into their very design — have been growing in popularity among homebuyers seeking a fresh start.
Agrihoods combine the luxuries of a modern residential community with a farm-to-table lifestyle, giving those who are interested in farming the opportunities for hands-on experiences without having to make the full-time commitment to farming as a career. Agrihoods enhance the traditional neighborhood, where residents are connected primarily by their proximity to one another, by offering neighbors an added layer of community through outdoor living bonding.
I am lucky enough to work in one of these incredible communities called Arden. Located in Palm Beach County, Florida, Arden is a residential agrihood designed with a central 5-acre organic farm, managed by me and my husband Tripp Eldridge. We grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on the farm: from potatoes, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes, to bananas, papayas, and mangos. At Arden, residents receive regular farm shares and may participate in farming activities to learn more about growing fruits and vegetables. Both Tripp and I continue to be surprised how much interest and enthusiasm we receive from residents who volunteer to help us weed, plant trees, dig sweet potatoes and give farm tours to visitors.
Agrihood communities like Arden have been popping up all over the U.S. in recent years —and have been in high demand. In fact, during the pandemic, Arden saw a whopping 50 percent jump in home sales. This growing trend shows that more people are now actively seeking out healthier lifestyles and access to locally grown food and a more seamless connection to nature. By providing families with opportunities to become more involved with food production, residential agrihoods may have a positive impact on how society as a whole perceives food consumption and understands how it influences their lives.
This integration with nature also extends into the residents’ social lives. In agrihoods, the farm acts as the social center where residents may come together for social and educational activities, creating a strong community where people create bonds through their shared interests. For example, at Arden, we have a community barn that serves as a gathering spot for a variety of events throughout the year, including our fall harvest celebration and pumpkin patch, culinary classes, and fun nature-focused educational activities for kids.
These events provide opportunities for every age group – from grandparent to child – to participate in farm activities and learn, ensuring that even the next generation builds a connection to nature and has knowledge about where food comes from. Equipped with this knowledge from an early age, our children will be more likely to become responsible consumers as they enter adulthood.
Food and its consumption are inherently social experiences, so it’s important for people to talk about food and how it affects not only our lives, but also the lives of everyone involved in its production. Time after time, I have seen how these conversations have a positive impact on people, making them more aware of their food choices and creating a chain reaction that allows for a larger conversation about sustainability and healthier lifestyles.
While agrihoods are not the only solution necessary for creating a more sustainable future, they certainly are a step in the right direction. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to reevaluate the role our homes play in our lives, agrihoods present a compelling example of how our homes can enhance our lifestyles by encouraging sharing, collaboration, and a more sustainable relationship with our food.
About the authors
Carmen and Tripp Eldridge are small-scale farming experts and the current Farm Directors at Arden, an award-winning residential agrihood in Palm Beach County, FL. Managing the community’s five-acre farm, Tripp and Carmen are pioneering innovative farm-to-table living in South Florida.