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An Urban ‘Agrihood’ Is Worth Considering In St. Louis

August 31, 2016 Environment, Featured, North City, Planning & Design 1 Comment
Fox Park Farm is now of many community gardens in St. Louis
Fox Park Farm is now of many community gardens in St. Louis

The recent Sunday Poll was actually two polls, both n0n-scientific. First, the questions and votes:

#1: Which of the following, if any, should residents be allowed to raise in the city? Animals would be subject to minimum space requirements. (Check all that apply)

  1. Chickens 29 [24.17%]
  2. Rabbits 26 [21.67%]
  3. Goats 15 [12.5%]
  4. Sheep 10 [8.33%]
  5. Alpacas 9 [7.5%]
  6. None should be allowed 8 [6.67%]
  7. TIE 6 [5%]
    1. Emus
    2. Ostriches
    3. Dairy Cows
  8. Pigs 4 [3.33%]
  9. Unsure/no opinion 1 [0.83%]

#2: Agree or disagree: With so much vacant land in the city, much more land should be used for urban food production

  • Strongly agree 16 [44.44%]
  • Agree 7 [19.44%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Disagree 0 [0%]
  • Strongly disagree 3 ]8.33%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

I think it’s fair to say among readers there is general support for some farm animal and increased agriculture. For a few years now I’ve been seeing stories about new suburban subdivisions with a farm in the center instead of a golf course:

From 2013:

There’s a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.

It’s called development-supported agriculture, a more intimate version of community-supported agriculture — a farm-share program commonly known as CSA. In planning a new neighborhood, a developer includes some form of food production — a farm, community garden, orchard, livestock operation, edible park — that is meant to draw in new buyers, increase values and stitch neighbors together. (NPR: Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms)

From 2015:

The phrase “planned community” conjures up a lot of images — maybe a swimming pool, obsessively manicured lawns, white picket fences — but a farm is probably not one of them. 

Pushing back against that stereotypical image of suburban living is a growing number of so-called “agrihoods” springing up nationwide. These developments center around a real, functional farm as their crown jewel. According to CivilEats, there are currently about 200 of them nationwide. 

The latest, called The Cannery, officially opened this past Saturday on a site that was previously home to a tomato cannery facility located about a mile outside downtown Davis, California. The 100-acre project of the New Home Company development company is considered to be the first agrihood to take root on formerly industrial land. All of its 547 energy-efficient homes will be solar-powered and electric car-ready, KCRA, NBC’s Sacramento affiliate, reports. (Huffington Post: ‘Agrihoods’ Offer Suburban Living Built Around Community Farms, Not Golf Courses)

Also from 2015, a CBS News story, video below:

This CBS News story was recently repeated on CBS’ Sunday Morning. So this story and taking a survey on urban food production in the city got me thinking: must the “agrihood” movement be limited to very expensive suburban developments? I could see an agrihood being part of the development of the near north side. In an agrihood, the farm is professionally run. It’s not a community garden run my neighbors. It could be a way to create jobs for area youth. I’d want housing to be a different price points and not displace current residents.

We have more land than we’ll likely ever have residents to fill. For years, in cities coast to coast, people have been farming on vacant urban land.  St. Louis is no exception — see RFT’s 10 Local Urban Farms We Love.

— Steve Patterson








Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Mark-AL says:

    An issue to consider when deciding to raise animals (especially near a urban area):
    * Predator control: neighborhood dogs are already there; most dogs can learn to enjoy running and killing farm animals. Coyotes, foxes and even wolves will be attracted to the area because of the presence of the farm animals. Coyotes will often kill just for sport, or choose a select doe just to eat the udder. Eagles, crows will attack from overhead, carry off young farm animals to their nests.They also get confused and carry off domestic pets: Billy’s new French Bulldog pup or Susie’s cute little Persian kitten. (Herd farmers rarely keep small breeds of dogs. The cats are on-their-own.) I’ve personally witnessed eagles and large crows carry off chicks and goats (kids) less than 30′ away from where I was sitting. Overhead stainless cables will help to discourage the flying predators, although they are costly to purchase, install and maintain. Plus, patterns have to be adjusted regularly since the eagles (especially) will figure them out. A couple of donkeys brought in to protect the herds will help control the dogs, coyotes, foxes and wolves, but you’ll need two (They’re social. Otherwise, depression sets in, and you don’t want to be anywhere close to a depressed donkey), and you’ll need to keep them away from the herd’s grain because the donkeys will overeat (So you’ll need to separate the herd from the donkeys when you’re feeding grains–easier said than done! ). You’ll need to provide regular hoof care for the donkeys too and regular dental care, since they’re subject to hoof rot and their teeth grow daily and, when kept to protect herds, their food supplies are limited and their teeth wear unevenly. (In the wild, they travel as much as 30 miles per day, which keeps their hooves clean and exposes them to food supplies that more evenly wear their teeth.) Rats live fairly close to where chickens and goats and all farm animals are kept. They wait around for the neighborhood, domestic dogs and other predators to run the animals after sunset, then clean up after the massacre. And, of course, they enjoy the herd’s droppings, especially if the feed is nutritious and tasty, as it should be. 5 neighborhood dogs can easily kill 15-20 nannies in 2 to 3 minutes. Snakes like to eat the rats and the mice, so they’ll introduce themselves to the area in greater numbers than otherwise. Then they slither away to digest their catch. They prefer to digest their food someplace cool–like under or around a rock in a neighbor’s garden, or under or around the door mat on the front porch, and they’re often known to crawl into your Toyota Camry where they’ll enjoy the protection and cool that the seat provides. Sometimes they’ll find an open porch door or wall opening and slither into your bathroom! They relax where it’s cool! City folk haven’t lived until they’ve lived around snakes!! I’m not saying that people can’t adapt to different lifestyles and habitats…..but in the cited example that Steve presented in this feature, the residents CHOSE to live around the farm. In North STL City, I wonder if the residents would have that choice, especially those who are already living there and wish to remain? A neighborhood built around a herd farm would definitely attract me and my family. But our family is like the Beverly Hillbillies, constantly adapting our lifestyle to a denser area.


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