"Building Communities with Farms" was first published by the Liberty Prairie Foundation, an organization founded by the developers of the innovative Prairie Crossing Master Planned Community located outside of Chicago, Illinois. The publication consolidated information from a conference held at Prairie Crossing which discussed ideas around developing communities with agriculture as a key component of the community. This idea was further developed in subsequent model developments by Kirley+ and its founder Keith Kirley, AIA in projects including "A Vision for Hadley" and the "Phase II Prairie Crossing Expansion." Links to these projects and publications can be found below.
BUILDING COMMUNITIES WITH FARMS
There is an opportunity to create vibrant, dense, urban economic and cultural centers with agriculture integrated into the fabric of communities. These communities can be anchored by centralized Public Markets. Markets and agriculture stimulate community involvement, create vibrant areas of interaction and energize local economies.
THE BACK STORY:
The commercialization of American culture has dramatically shaped our urban environment over the past 60 years. This shift has resulted in a monotonous and characterless urban environment marked by strip malls, suburban sprawl and and a growing blight of middle American prosperity.
A POPULATION MOVES:
There has been a slow and steady population shift occurring as more and more Americans abandon the suburbs for cities in search of jobs, opportunities and access to culture. This migration has been on the rise since 2010 and projections show it is the beginning of a much larger trend.
With the popularity of cities on the rise, many cities are experiencing unprecedented pressure on housing prices making the reality of living in these urban centers impossible for many middle and low-income Americans. In 2016, the average one-bedroom rental in the top tier market of San Francisco stood at $3,590/month - a clearly unsustainable circumstance. This nascent trend will continue to challenge local and regional planning agencies and their rent-control and subsidized housing efforts.
We need to create better, more vibrant and more unique urban and semi-urban areas for people to live. It's clear that cheap strip mall development and characterless urban sprawl will continue to dominate development efforts for years to come, but there is great opportunity in NOT following industry standards. Institutional money flocks to safe bets, but it's proven that safe bets create uninspiring and monotonous urban sprawl. Creating vibrant retail areas anchored by Public Markets with integrated agriculture and design oriented residential housing that is walkable and sustainable is a formula for creating lasting communities with character that will always be unique and successful. If you love strip malls, this idea will elude you. For the rest of you, join our cause!