Bringing the Farm to Your Backyard

Bringing the Farm to Your Backyard

Development Supported Agriculture is a growing trend in the housing world, and one subdivision is taking it mainstream

JULY 11, 2014

Americans have been attracted to the schools, parks, yards and square footage of suburbia for decades. Then, there are the added perks of some housing developments—community pools, fitness centers, playgrounds and tennis courts, to name a few. But the biggest draw in the future might be a communal farm.

A new fad in the housing world is a concept called Development Supported Agriculture (DSA), or more broadly, “agrihoods.” DSA is the child of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which consumers pledge money or resources to support a farm operation, and in turn, receive a share of what it produces, but take the concept one step further by integrating the farm within residential developments. Instead of paying for access to a golf course or tennis courts, residents pay to be a part of a working farm—helping with the growing process and reaping the crops it produces.

While the CSA movement, which began on two properties in the United States during the 1980s, boasts thousands of farms today, DSA is just beginning to grow in popularity, with about 200 neighborhoods buying in to the concept.

One of the first developments to create a working farm was Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois, about one hour north of Chicago. A few neighbors wanting to preserve land in the late 1980s founded the community. Today, Prairie Crossing has about 359 single-family homes. But one of the newest, Willowsford in Ashburn, Virginia, is aiming much higher, hoping to fill 2,200 homes.

About 40 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., Willowsford is at the edge of Virginia’s horse and farm country, where the booming housing market surrounding the nation’s capital is gobbling up open spaces. Developers conserved some 2,000 acres, 300 of which are farmland. Eventually, the community will be divided into four villages, each with a designated farm. A rather idyllic setting, Willowsford is thoughtfully planned to include homes in the southern style typical of Virginia’s Loudoun County, all with easy access to pick-your-own strawberries and a quaint farm stand, chock full of cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, cartons of okra and string beans, and baked goods.

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2 thoughts on “Bringing the Farm to Your Backyard

  1. Pepper Culpepper says:

    Hey Jan! Thanks for stopping by. We are growing lettuce this year and I’ve finally got my Sunflowers to get really big. I can see the first blooms getting ready to open up and I’m excited about that!


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