Buzzword. n. a neighborhood designed with green spaces for residents to use to farm and own animals, usually centered around a working farm.
Etymology: blend of agriculture (latin agr- meaning “field” + Latin cultura, meaning “growing” or “cultivation” + neighborhood (neighbor from Old English neahgebur) + -hood; or Middle English “neighbored”
Denotation: Housing developments centered around farms which provide a sustainable food system for the entire community. These developments often contain community gardens, urban agriculture, and co-housing. All agrihoods contain a centerpiece farm which provides produce for the whole community at a local produce stand, and whose tenant farmers educate homeowners about farming through “test” gardens that show residents how to grow their own vegetables and crops. Most communities also have individual garden plots for homeowners to grow their own produce.
- Agritopia in Phoenix: An agrihood which features 450 residential lots with commercial, agricultural, and open space tracts and a central working farm. 160 acres are certified organic farmland, and the farm provides the food for a farm-to-table restaurant in the agrihood as well as around 20 chefs in the area.
- Willowsford in Ashburn, VA: This agrihood opened in 2011 with a 30-acre farm and a culinary consultant who regularly teaches classes about how to prepare whatever produce is in season. Half of the property is set aside to be protected for conservation, and the community offers other such amenities as parks, tree-houses built for kids, 40 miles of trails, and fishing areas.
- Kukui’ula in Kauai, Hawaii: An agrihood which opened in 2012 with a 10-acre farm in addition to a clubhouse, spa and golf course.
Agrihoods are a popular topic among advocates of the “farm-to-table movement”, which promotes eating healthy, organic foods that don’t contain all of the chemicals and preservatives found in so many processed foods in America. It also involves understanding and being aware of what actually goes into the food that we, as consumers, are eating. Agrihoods themselves seem to build on recent crazes in the United States related to health, wellness, and whole foods, and they are particularly popular among first-time parents who are hoping to educate their children about healthy eating and lifestyles.
As the demand for similar developments increases, the term has become widely circulated among housing developers, as it has prompted a move from centering developments around pools and golf courses to farms as a means to draw in home buyers. Many developers have discovered that maintaining a farm is much cheaper than maintaining other amenities, and it can even churn a profit if done right. The agrihood is a hot topic among environmentalists, healthy food advocates, housing developers, and financial experts studying the housing market.
Though the farm is not always what draws families to the communities in the first place, the “agrihood” seems to carry a connotation of a healthy lifestyle, even if you aren’t fully participating in the farm’s activities, or if your home isn’t even really near the farm. Therefore residents of such communities are able to foster an identity as someone who is following the current “healthy eating” trend and cite their residence in an agrihood as evidence of their healthy lifestyle. This may help them “one-up” their friends or family as a better parent or healthy individual.
It is possible that the term agrihood may also carry a negative connotation for a similar reason. Just like the way that the terms “vegetarian” and “organic food” are sometimes associated with snobbishness in general society, the agrihood may serve to label individuals in a similar manner. The suffix “-hood” may also play into the word’s possible negative connotation. Though in this case, “-hood” is a clipping of “neighborhood”, the suffix “-hood” retains very different connotations than the word neighborhood. “Hood” tends to be associated with slums and even gang-like, exclusionary activities. As a result, this suffix may cause agrihoods to seem less welcoming and less appealing to individuals looking for a new place to live.
However, that is not to say that individuals who live in agrihoods are actually snobby or elitist. In fact, to individuals who also harbor the liberal values surrounding agrihoods, living in such a community still may carry a very positive connotation.
I don’t think that this term will survive very long. It is catchy and easy to remember, but I think that once the craze goes away, the novelty of the term will wear off and the agrihoods that are left will continue to be referred to as neighborhoods and housing developments.
However, I do think it will be interesting to see if the agrihood spawns any new terms related to its more negative connotations. Just like how mothers who are advocates of organic food have come to be negatively labeled as “crunchy moms”, it will be interesting to see if agrihood residents develop similar nicknames.
I think that the idea behind agrihoods is fantastic, and I would love to see people become more active in growing their own food and learning how to farm. I do think that the term agrihood can come off sounding a bit silly, especially since it really does seem like a “fad” word that will fade with time (it would almost sound like you were just making words up if you told someone you live in Agritopia or in an Agrihood, since these aren’t very official words and thus make the concept of an agrihood also seem not very official), but I hope that more are built and that they become a more established concept. However, I might suggest changing the name “agrihood” to remove the “-hood” suffix, instead calling it some sort of community or residence, both of which have much more positive connotations.
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