Why We Need to Rethink Where We Build New Houses

With farmland being lost in the United States at 1 acre per minute, we need to rethink how we live and how we grow food.

Farm Supported Development

Farm Supported Development

media.npr.org / Via NPR

NPR recently publishes a story about a housing development in Fort Collins, Colorado that will be developed around a working farm. Similar to a current model of housing built around golf courses. Except a well manage farm has many environmental benefits compared with golf courses, that require tons of petroleum and chemicals to be maintained.

Besides using less energy to maintain, this new model of development supported agriculture provide fresh food to residents with no question of what chemical while growing. This provides a certain level of food security of residents, who do not need to depend on a just in time modern supply chain for their meals next week.

This isn’t just good for homeowners, its a type of development that can be extremely profitable for developers. In Fort Collins, 200 single family lots were sold within a few days to going on the market. Values of homes already on site jumped 25% on news of the agricultural plans.

The Importance of Preserving Farmland

The Importance of Preserving Farmland

In America, we lost an acre of farmland per minute between 2002 and 2007. Those 4,080,300, roughly the size of Massachusetts was primarily used to build new housing developments.

To put this in perspective: From 1982 to 2007, the U.S. population grew by 30 percent. During the same time period, developed land increased 57 percent.

In all fairness, I think even our prime farmland is managed pretty poorly. Most of it is tilled, sprayed with chemical fertilizers, and harvested with huge combines. Then it is processed into crappy food. Even though today’s industrial farmers are the most productive humans ever to live on earth, it is too fragile of a system to last very long.

Small scale growing allows for more care to be given to the soil. Using cover cropping, compost, and patterned grazing farmers can build soil over time. Compare this to soil depletion taking place in grain fields across the country. blogcdn.com / Via farmland.org

Redeveloping the Rust Belt

Redeveloping the Rust Belt

Cities like Detroit and Youngstown, Ohio are currently becoming population donuts. The suburbs continue to grow outward, while population at the city core declines.

Urban agriculture has been filling a land use void in both of these cities. 63alfred.com

Rust Belt Cities as Agricultural Centers

Rust Belt Cities as Agricultural Centers

Vacant land in cities is such an interesting problem. Has there ever been a time in history, when there is arable land that no one wants to own?

There is enormous potential for how urban land can be repurposed, and its an opportunity for us as a society to find new paradigms for land use and neighborhoods.

Pictured above is one of many ideas for how to use land in Detroit. Its like a huge blank canvas, waiting to be developed. popularmechanics.com

Detroit Future City: an example of creative land use

Detroit Future City: an example of creative land use

Detroit put together an incredible land use plan for the future of their city. Existing neighborhoods and developed areas remain.

But areas where there is currently little development will have: parks, innovative ecological, and innovative productive.

These ideas of innovated ecological and innovative production have potential to reinvent how we think of living in cities.

This isn’t the first time Detroit has had to innovate with land use. freep.com

In 1893, Detroit Purchased 400 Acres for Citizens to Grow Their Own Food

In 1893, Detroit Purchased 400 Acres for Citizens to Grow Their Own Food

Mayor Hazen S. Pingree implemented a plan in Detroit in 1893 to combat an economic recession.

The economic value of all crops harvested in 1896 was nearly $31,000. upload.wikimedia.org

Paul Wheaton’s Project: Reinventing the Rural Community

Paul Wheaton's Project: Reinventing the Rural Community

A prolific online permaculture teacher, Paul Wheaton, has recently purchased a few hundred acres near Missoula, Montana to show his ideas in the soil.

Paul’s Project will allow people to purchase long term leases for 1 acre plots to be apart of this community developing new ecological innovations.

One example of an innovation is the Wofati. It is a small house built with an earthen umbrella to regulate internal temperatures.

The Wofati is currently a work in progress, but it is incredible to see houses being developed that will need little to no heating in cold climates. simondale.net

Tiny House Neighborhoods

Tiny House Neighborhoods

Occupy Madison raised money to build tiny houses for homeless members of their community. With private donations, they built 98 square foot houses for $3000 each.

With that cost, and mostly being mounted on trailers, mobile tiny houses allow for many new forms of neighborhoods to be expanded upon.

Tiny houses can be built around urban farms or parked on more rural farms to provide housing for people who want to be in an agricultural setting with low cost. scontent-b.xx.fbcdn.net

This post originally appeared on BuzzFeed, check it out here


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