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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Agrihood

Would you like a little lettuce with that colonial? Developers use farms to lure homebuyers
relates to It’s a Beautiful Day in the Agrihood
Photo Illustration: 731; Photograph: Getty Images (2)

American builders have a long history of bulldozing farms to make way for housing developments. Now developers are starting farms to sell homes. Harvest, a $1 billion “urban agrarian” community being built by H. Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Development in Texas, hired a farmer to cultivate vegetables before construction began on a planned 3,200 houses. Willowsford, a community of 2,130 homes in Virginia’s Loudoun County, set aside 2,000 acres of green space, including 300 acres for raising fruit, vegetables, chickens, and goats. Developer DMB integrated produce fields and edible gardens into projects in Arizona, California, and Hawaii.

As the housing industry recovers, developers are counting on fresh veggies to tempt retired baby boomers looking to eat local and parents intent on nurturing children on organic meals. “The foodie generation has come of age,” says Ed McMahon, a resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington. “The mainstream development community has come to think of these as a pretty good way to build a low-cost amenity that people seem to like and that also adds authenticity.”