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Understanding Agrihoods: An Exploration into the Growing Trend of Farm-to-Table Communities Across the United States

Agrihoods are a recent trend in real estate development that integrate agricultural amenities - such as working farms, orchards, or community gardens - into residential or mixed-use communities. As an emergent trend, agrihoods have the potential to enhance farmland preservation and local and regional food systems, making them a ripe area for research. However, very little scholarly research has been carried out to characterize, contextualize or evaluate agrihood developments. Thus far, the development model has primarily been detailed in popular media sources. This thesis serves as a baseline study that seeks to understand how neighborhood food systems operate within agrihood developments and how residents engage with their agricultural amenities. A mixed-methods approach utilized an online survey for agrihood residents and interviews with developers and farm managers to describe a subset of agrihoods as case studies. Seventy-eight agrihoods were identified; six were selected for case study analysis, three of which provided results for the resident survey (n=388). Survey results indicate that the character of the community was a more important motivator for agrihood residents to move to their community compared to the agricultural amenities. While all vi case study agrihoods sell produce directly to consumers through a CSA, farm store, or both, few survey respondents indicated they were CSA members or regularly shopped at the neighborhood farm store, with cost and convenience identified as the biggest barriers. While resident engagement with the neighborhood farm may be limited, charging an annual resident fee to support the farm – an approach taken by four out six case study communities – may provide a guaranteed revenue source to the farm amidst low levels of resident engagement with the agrihoods’ sales outlets. Interviewees provided insight into the nuances of operating agrihood farms, enhancing resident engagement, and the spatial design of communities. The results of this thesis can help agrihood developers and managers, and land-use regulators to further understand this new development model. Furthermore, the findings in this thesis provide avenues for future research on how agrihoods contribute to farmland preservation and local and regional food systems.
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