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Agritopia

In Agritopia, residents live around a working farm "in the same way other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center," reports Kate Murphy in The New York Times (3/12/14). Despite its fanciful name, Agritopia does actually exist, in Arizona. It is one of a growing number of "agrihoods" sprouting up around the country, "at least a dozen," so far, with more on the way. Agritopia and its like are "thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food." "Everybody wants to be Thomas Jefferson," says Quint Redmond of Agriburbia, a consulting firm.

Developers are also keen on the idea. "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," says Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute. There’s also "a potential tax break for preserving agricultural land." Interestingly, a number of agrihoods were "established just as the real estate market collapsed." Today, their property values are "appreciating and for-sale signs are rare."

Agritopia totals 160 acres, 16 of which "are certified organic farmland" and "452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation … The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffee house, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand." The toughest part is finding a farmer who can grow "a vast variety" of crops, "then market them to residents and sell the excess at farmer’s markets and to local chefs." "There’s no manual … to tell you how to do this," says Agritopia’s developer (and resident), Joseph E. Johnston.