Redefining "Homegrown": My Trip to the Agrihood

  • Leave your golf clubs and tennis rackets behind
  • Eggs, produce, and meat that’s fresher and closer than the grocery
  • Farm to table cooking 

Dear Reader,

When it comes to picking a home, there are many phrases that may deter you from looking into a neighborhood. Things like, “up and coming” and “on the rise” may get an immediate pass from some folks.

But for me, after spending a good portion of my life in Florida, the words “planned community” always translated into “no way” when I was looking for a home.

If you’ve ever visited to the sunshine state (or you live there), you’ve probably seen that it’s chocked full of neighborhoods with beige-colored cookie-cutter homes and rows of condos surrounding a golf course, country club, and tennis courts.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these types of communities. But since I haven’t picked up a golf club or tennis racket a day in my life, there wasn’t much appeal in that lifestyle for me.

A few weeks ago, though, I had the opportunity to visit Willowsford, Virginia — a planned community that was, well, very different from the ones I had experienced in Florida, or anywhere for that matter.

Instead of a golf course or tennis courts, I found a nature conservatory, hiking trails, camping areas, fish-stocked ponds, and, most importantly, a farm.

The farm not only provides produce, eggs, chickens and other local, sustainably grown and produced items for residents who participate in the farm’s CSA program or shop at the Farm Stand, but also serves customers who live and work in neighboring communities. Additionally, the farm inspires neighborhood culinary classes and food education.

Sprouts 

Farmers Alex Restaino and Nathan Forristall tending to Brussesl Sprouts on the farm in The Grange. Photo Credit: Deborah Lakowicz Dramby

Willowsford is one of about 200 farm-to-table communities that have sprouted up in the U.S.1 Just like Willowsford, these “agrihoods” are redefining the image of suburban life by making farming the community focus over leisure sports.

Three hundred acres of Willowsford are dedicated farmland. From May through November, residents can enjoy over 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs and meat from pastured chickens. These are available through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program or at the Willowsford Farm Stand.

The farm also provides educational events and activities like their 2015 Monarch program which involved young participants learning how to tag and release monarch butterflies, as well as acts as a distribution point for local businesses that sell sustainably raised meats, dairy products, and poultry. One of their community partners includes Heritage Hollow Farms in Sperryville, Virginia who provides grass-fed beef to the farm stand.

FarmStand

Outside the farm stand. Photo Credit: Molly Petersen

FarmStand

Inside the farm stand. Photo credit: Molly Peterson

While Willowsford isn’t a certified organic farm, it uses organic practices, including using non-GMO seeds.

I had the pleasure of talking to Willowsford Farm director Mike Snow during my visit.

We discussed GMO seeds and common farming practice. During our discussion, Mike told me a story about how another farmer he knew resorted to using GMO seeds during a difficult squash season.

When I asked him if he would consider the same practice, he replied, “I just can’t do it.”

An answer as simple and perfect as the food he grows.

But the good food news doesn’t end there for this agrihood. It also has a culinary program led by acclaimed chef and culinary adviser Bonnie Moore.

Greenhouse

Mike Snow and Bonnie Moore checking on crops at the Willowsford Farm. Photo Credit: Molly Peterson

On the day I toured Willowsford, I got to meet Bonnie. While she was setting up for a cooking class geared toward kids, she explained that little to no food at Willowsford goes to waste. When there are excess crops, she gets to work in the kitchen. If there are extra tomatoes, she makes pasta sauce. If there are extra strawberries, she makes jam. Very industrious!

Bonnie Moore leading a culinary class at Willowsford’s Sycamore House. Photo Credit: Alan Bushnell

Willowsford has 2,000 acres of conservancy lands which includes the farm. This means 2,000 acres of the community will remain undeveloped, no matter how much the community grows. In these 2,000 acres are miles of trails for residents to enjoy. Plus, they have two beautiful community buildings, the Sycamore House and The Lodge at Willow Lake, with pools, meeting areas, community kitchens, and endless other amenities.

Before you get too excited, you should know the average price of a home in Willowsford is around $850,000.

 Living in Willowsford or most agrihoods isn’t an affordable option for everyone, but if you live in the Washington, D.C., area, you can still reap the benefits of the farm by joining their CSA. Click here to learn more.

Live well,

Natalie Moore
Managing editor, Living Well Daily

Sources

[1] ‘Agrihoods’ Offer Suburban Living Built Around Community Farms, Not Golf Courses

Natalie Moore

Written By Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.

View More Free Articles

MAILBAG: Slow Dementia Down with THIS “Sugar Fix”

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, My wife has recently begun showing signs of dementia. Her doctor has put her on medicine to try and “slow the progression” but, if anything, she seems like she’s just getting worse. Is there anything we can do? –Martin from Durham, North Carolina Hi Martin, Some medications claim to slow...

Read This

Common Weed Killer Causes IBD?

It always puzzles me how anyone thinks we can spray toxic chemicals on our crops and NOT have them affect our health! Because despite what food manufacturers may claim, chemical residues from pesticides and herbicides show up on (and IN) the conventionally grown food we eat. And research makes it clear that these creepy chemicals...

Read This

All-Natural Solution FIGHTS Vision Loss

I think you’ll agree that aging should come with some perks. And chief among them is FINALLY having the time to relax and enjoy the retirement you earned. But that’s awfully hard to do if you’re losing your eyesight due to macular degeneration. Instead, your golden years become tarnished by having to focus on learning...

Read This

Dodge Diabetes with THIS “Barnyard” Secret

How does that old saying go? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We all know it’s easier to STOP something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it’s happened. And with all of its complications, including shortening your lifespan, type 2 diabetes is well worth preventing!...

Read This

Gut Trigger Causes Arthritis? (WEIRD)

I’ve had patients make some pretty strange claims about their arthritis. Many folks swear they can “feel a storm coming” in their joints. And I’ve heard this one so often (and had them be spot-on about that storm) that I believe it’s true. Other patients claim their joint pain gets worse when eating tomatoes. And...

Read This

Common Heart Condition Sends Dementia Risk SOARING

If you’re “of a certain age,” I bet you remember that iconic old slogan from the late 70s, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” It always springs to mind when I see a sharp person’s memory start to fade away. They soon become unable to make decisions for themselves. Eventually, they even have...

Read This

MAILBAG: Protect Yourself Against New COVID Variants

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, “Most of my family has been hit with COVID. We’re thinking it’s the latest variant. Are there any extra, new recommendations for protecting yourself against the variant? (Aside from washing your hands?) My husband and I have tested negative so far, but we want to be careful.” –Tammy from Lancaster,...

Read This

Dial Down Blood Sugar Naturally [RIVALS Metformin!]

If you have diabetes, it’s almost certain that your conventional medical doctor put you on a blood sugar-lowering drug. And there’s ALSO a strong possibility that the drug makes you feel terrible. Common side effects include gas, bloating, upset stomach, kidney issues, and fatigue. Even worse, over time, these drugs become less effective. So even...

Read This

“Happiness Method” Slows Aging

Okay, I’ll admit it. There have been times I’ve found it tough to maintain an optimistic outlook these last few years. And I’m not alone. Studies show that unhappiness and loneliness are on the rise. That’s TERRIBLE news for our health. Because when you combine the two, it can deliver a devastating blow to your...

Read This

Belly Up to The Bowl for THIS New Nut Benefit

It’s the nuttiest time of year. And I’m not just talking about the decorating, shopping, and holiday chaos… I’m literally talking about NUTS. Sure, we eat these tasty treats all year round. But when the holidays approach our nut consumption goes through the roof. We eat more nuts from October through December than any other...

Read This