Urban sprawl is a problem that confronts every city, both large and small. While some contend that urban sprawl has some advantages, such as providing economic opportunities outside of the city, the environmental impacts of the phenomenon are significant (Wilson & Chakraborty, 2013). Low density housing outside of urban centers produces more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than larger more densely packed urban areas (Wilson & Chakraborty, 2013). The loss of farmland and habitat areas are one of the major problems associated with urban sprawl (Wilson & Chakraborty, 2013). In order to resolve some of these issues, many suburban areas are turning to planned communities that center around agricultural activities. Argiurbia or Agrihood is a concept that is beginning to grow in popularity as a solution to sustainable development in suburban areas. This research proposes an agrourbia development on the outskirts of Fort Collins, Colorado.
The community that is proposed will be a 210 acre, 120 home development that is located on the west side of Fort Collins adjacent to the Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area. The farm will be located on the west side of Taft Hill Rd, which is outside of present city limits. The first 110 acres will be dedicated to the farm and housing units. The remainder of the acreage will be dedicated to hiking trails and natural area habitat preservation. The housing units will be four-story condo type units with a small patio that leads into a common area. The common area will consist of space for personal gardens, as well as a larger community agricultural area. The agricultural operations and gardens will be USDA organic certified. The farm will be self-sustaining and will produce enough for the community and to sell surplus locally. Homeowners association fees will include weekly delivery of fresh organic fruits and vegetables that are grown on site. Homeowners will also agree to perform a certain number of hours of labor towards the agricultural endeavors. This model will be similar models used at Wetrock Farm in North Carolina and The Cannery Farm in California (Mellino, 2015).
The farm will be located in USDA hardiness zone 5b, which is suitable for a wide range of crops (USDA, 2017). Expected minimum temperatures in this zone are -15 to -10°F (USDA, 2017). The farm will use sustainable practices including crop rotation, cover crops, water conservation practices, and eco-friendly methods for weed and pest control (Feenstra, n.d.). It will seek to achieve and maintain plant diversity both on the farm and in the natural areas, integrating both crops and animals in the same farm operation (Feenstra, n.d.).
Crops will include standard crops such as sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes, salad mixes, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, melons, onions, herbs, and the most popular produce. It will also include berry production such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and heirloom crops that are suitable to the climate. The farm plans to grow many high value specialty and niche crops. The operation will also have an onsite greenhouse where residents can purchase plant stock. The goal is to provide a diversity of high-value crops and value-added products.
The planned community will add value to the county and will be a model of sustainable planning that others can model. It will provide additional value in terms of revenue through the crops produced by the agricultural operations. This will be above and beyond any taxes realized by property values. This is expected to be a highly desirable community that will attract residents who are community minded and an asset to the area. It will also provide a valuable learning experience for many community members, their children, and local schools. This community is a sustainable solution to the problem of urban sprawl and continued loss of agricultural land in the Fort Collins area.
- Feenstra, G. (n.d.). What is sustainable agriculture? UC Davis. Retrieved from
- Mellino, C. (2015). 4 Innovative Urban Farms Changing the American Landscape. EcoWatch.
Retrieved from http://www.ecowatch.com/4-innovative-urban-farms-changing-the- american-landscape-1882104975.html
- USDA. (2017). USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Retrieved from
- Wilson, B., & Chakraborty, A. (2013). The Environmental Impacts of Sprawl: Emergent Themes
from the Past Decade of Planning Research. Sustainability. 5, 3302-3327.