Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms : The Salt Across the country, a new model of housing development is springing up that embraces the local food movement. Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are now serving as the latest suburban amenity.
NPR logo

Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms

Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.


And I'm David Greene.

If you're waking up this morning in a suburb, think about what drew you there. Maybe it was newly built homes, good schools, a pleasant atmosphere. The community we'll visit now entices people in a different way, with the promise of local food and farm-raised chickens.

Here's Luke Runyon, from member station KUNC.

LUKE RUNYON, BYLINE: At first, the subdivision Bucking Horse looks like your average halfway-constructed neighborhood. But look closer, and you'll see a rustic red farm house and a big white barn.

KRISTIN KIRKPATRICK: Yeah, these buildings are beautiful.

RUNYON: Kristin Kirkpatrick works for Bellisimo, the developer that purchased this plot of land, complete with historic farm buildings, in Fort Collins, Colorado. It's being turned into a neighborhood totally devoted to local food. When finished, Bucking Horse will support more than a thousand households.

KIRKPATRICK: When we show it, people are either, like, you guys are crazy...


KIRKPATRICK: ...I don't see the vision here at all. Or they come and they're, like, this is going to be amazing.

RUNYON: Kirkpatrick says at Bucking Horse, agriculture is the big draw. Land has been set aside for vegetables. There will be goats and chickens, too. Soon they'll be hiring a farmer. The neighborhood plan is infused with the quaint, pastoral, even romantic view of farming.

KIRKPATRICK: Our public restrooms are in an old chicken coop, and it'll be half public restroom and half chicken coop.

LINDSAY EX: Traditionally, people have seen land development as being lots and roadways.

RUNYON: Lindsay Ex is with the City of Fort Collins' planning department. After World War II, Americans flocked to the suburb, a place less crowded than the city. Most suburbanites didn't want to be right next to a farm, and so restrictive zoning pushed livestock and tractors out of new residential areas. Now, Ex says, municipalities are being forced to change their codes.

EX: We used to have residential separated from agriculture, and now we're seeing those uses being combined.

RUNYON: Subdivisions that include small-scale farms are already in place in Illinois, Georgia and Vermont. The Urban Land Institute estimates there are more than 200 developments nationwide, with an agricultural twist.

Quint Redmond says for a business-savvy, small-time farmer, more developments putting in the farm-as-amenity is a great deal.

QUINT REDMOND: The best possible thing for a farmer is to have the infrastructure ready. That is where most farming goes upside down, or goes broke.

RUNYON: Redmond runs a company called Agriburbia, which operates farms within suburban developments across the country. He says the developer, or homeowners association, ends up making the big farm purchases, not the farmer. Not to mention, the neighborhood is filled with people who already have an interest in local food.

REDMOND: Everybody gets to see it as they're moving into the subdivision over time, and then there's a real market for that farmer.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I want to move there.

LINDLEY GREENE: I don't want you to climb up there.

RUNYON: Back at Bucking Horse in Fort Collins, Lindley Greene is coaxing her two young sons to finish their breakfast. The neighborhood's concept attracted Greene and her husband to move in earlier this year.

GREENE: Once we saw this and the plans they had for it, we were really sold.

RUNYON: And she's not alone. Bucking Horse's developer says 200 single-family lots were snatched up within days of going on the market. Greene says once the neighborhood farm is up and running, she'll be volunteering to get her hands dirty.

GREENE: We love the idea of it. To have it right here, not necessarily in our backyard, but still in our backyard is awesome.


RUNYON: And that's a shift in the suburban mindset, where having a farmer as a neighbor isn't an annoyance, but an amenity.

For NPR News, I'm Luke Runyon in Fort Collins, Colorado.

GREENE: And Luke's story came to us from Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting collaboration that focuses on agriculture and food production.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.