“It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting our high technology from weaponry to livingry.” ~ Buckminster Fuller
I live in Hillarys, Western Australia. Our suburb has a high number of people who work in the mining industry. And, as the iron ore price has plummeted, jobs have evaporated. We have seen more families leave this area in the last six months, than we have in the last six years. The cash that once flowed into new cars and expensive homes has slowed to a bit of a trickle. It appears our boom is deflating.
In my circle of mates, we have joked that the next round of redundancies, we’re making off for the country to start a commune.
Except, it’s less of a joke these days. It’s more of a hopeful dream. To live closer to nature, grow our own food and lead simpler, more fulfilling lives.
But frankly, communes aren’t entirely appealing either. Especially the “clothing optional” variety. Or the “dig your own toilet” kind. Or the “miles away from civilisation” option. To be honest, I don’t even really like camping!
Despite growing vegetables in my front garden, with chickens and bees in the backyard, I simply don’t relate to the hippy, bohemian culture that swirls around communes. I embrace technology and wifi and civilisation and a sustainable income.
I would, however, like to see more people growing and raising their own food. Balance our hectic lives with something more grounding and nourishing. Prioritise the cultivation of a sustainable lifestyle. And I know you don’t have to move to a commune to do it.
As my own garden is daily proof.
And it seems it’s not just me who feels this way. Agriculture-based developments, or so-called agrihoods, are springing up across the U.S. and Canada as the next big thing in real estate.
I’m surprised at how radical this idea appears to some people. Have we become so far removed from where real food comes from? Why should it be such a novelty to raise our own food?
In my suburb, there are several estates that centre around large grassed parks, tennis courts and playgrounds. And for years, planned communities have centred around golf courses and country clubs. You can’t eat grass! Plus these facilities are expensive to maintain, both in environmental and in monetary terms. Yet according to Brian Cullen, head of Willowsford’s development team, companies that built communities around golf courses spent a lot more and found only a few residents played.
“A farm is about 20 percent of the cost of a golf course,” he says.
And of course, everybody in the community eats. Everyone from a small child to an elderly person can participate in, and benefit from, an agricultural centred community.
A community farm offers fresh produce, a chance to live more actively outdoors and in some instances, an income for residents.
But, perhaps these agrihoods don’t gar far enough.
Lately, I have been reading the thoughts of futurists Ray Kurtzweil, Buckminster Fuller, Vivek Wadhwa and even Elon Musk. I know huge technological changes are on the horizon that will have a revolutionary impact on our society, much as the first Industrial Revolution did in the late 18th and 19th century.
But don’t think I’m scared for our future. Far from it. I’m excited for it! There are tremendous opportunities to change the way we live and work, for the better.
My dream development would be an agrihood that uses recycled shipping containers and renewable materials in the construction of energy efficient homes. And how about these communities being completely off the grid? With power generation via renewable resources like solar, biomass or wind? Greywater systems, rainwater gathering and reed bed filtering sewerage? A natural, chemical free community swimming pond? Aquaponics? Apiary? Chickens? Small livestock? Shared community resources, like cars and farming equipment? And a high speed wifi of course…
I’ve started collecting ideas of what I envisage, on my Pinterest board, Welcome to the Agrihood!
An agrihood meets futuristic eco-village?
I’d love to live there! How about you?