The concept of agrihood, or agriburbia, has become more prominently discussed in recent years, particularly considering the dramatic increase of urbanization in the United States coupled with a focus on environmental sustainability. For this reason, the United States is a leading example of agrihood growth, which “marks the intersection of land made available following the 2008 real estate bubble and growing interest in community-supported agriculture ventures” (Scher, 2016). Nevertheless, some risks and limitations are associated with agrihoods.
One limitation is the existing conflict of interests between urbanites and rural dwellers. As land becomes more scarce, some urbanites have relocated into homes with larger land areas, and some of these homes are adjacent to farms; according to Beem (2016), “the result is often unhappiness as newcomers and old-timers with different expectations suddenly find themselves in conflict over issues such as noise, dust, odor, and scenic values.” However, a natural solution to this issue could be for both sides to come together and communicate effectively, particularly with the creation of “buffer areas between farming operations and homes” (Beem, 2016).
Another limitation is the fact that “most Americans … have an urban-centric worldview” (Lichter & Brown, 2014). Since most Americans do have an urban-oriented mindset, they may arguably have less appreciation for agrihoods, or agriculture in general. However, in recent years, a greater appreciation for food’s origins has emerged, evident from the success of several fast-casual restaurants featuring local ingredients. Additionally, the urban-rural divide has actually improved in terms of agricultural production, largely due to the growth of agrihoods. For instance, “farmers markets, restaurant and gourmet grocery outlets, road side stands, and U-pick operations” (Lichter & Brown, 2014) all provide different opportunities to unite the rural and urban areas of the nation.
Lastly, another limitation could be arriving at a shared vision or agreement of various agrihoods. After all, people may have different ideas regarding the best options for agrihoods, and if these ideas become politicized, even more conflict can emerge. Nevertheless, a number of practices have proven to be successful for communities at large. For instance, agrihoods have proven useful for “[inverting] the wateful nature of the gated community by realizing the potential of underutilized land as a source for fresh produce” (Scher, 2016). Most people would not object to repurposing underutilized land, as this land is clearly not highly demanded from different groups.
In addition, impoverished areas may also come to an easy agreement if the agreement fulfills existing needs; in Detroit, the Michigan Farming Initiative began an agrihood in Detroit’s North End neighborhood, which includes “a two-acre urban garden, a 200-tree fruit orchid” and “has already provided more than 50,000 pounds of fresh produce free of charge to more than 2,000 households” (Malandra, 2017). Thus, this is a very encouraging development in agrihoods, as these will not only help resolve existing issues in the rural-urban interface, but also improve quality of life for the less fortunate.
- Beem, M. (2016). Rural-Urban Interface Problems and Opportunities. Oklahoma State
University. Retrieved from: http://www.forestry.ok.gov
- Lichter, D. T. & Brown, D. L. (2014). The New Rural-Urban Interface: Lessons for Higher
Education. Choices Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.choicesmagazine.org/
- Malandra, O. (2017, January 30). EarthRx: Detroit’s New ‘Agrihood’ is the Future of Urban
Planning. Paste Magazine. Retrieved from: https://www.pastemagazine.com/
- Sher, R. (2016, March 3). Why Shared Farms Are the Hot New Thing at Gated Communities.
Alternet. Retrieved from: http://www.alternet.org