Could “agrihoods” be the key to a happier life?
Along the banks of North Carolina’s French Broad River, seven miles outside of Asheville, the very first neighbors in a housing development called Olivette have shuffled their furniture and boxes out of moving trucks and into their brand-new homes.
These buyers weren’t drawn by the golf course or community pool—because Olivette doesn’t have those things. The 350-acre development is what founders Scott Austin, Allison Smith, and William Dickerson are calling an “agrihood.” What if, they wondered, we built a neighborhood around a working farm? And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
“There is a gentle pull at everyone’s heart these days,” Allison explains. “We want a connection with each other and connection to the land. As gardeners ourselves, we’d noticed that there’s a vital, engaged community around growing food. So a farm seemed like a good way to create community.”
At the center of Olivette is a working organic farm that’s already growing salad greens, root vegetables, tomatoes, squash, berries, and Asian pears. Beehives are producing honey, and there are plans to add chickens, as well as goats to help trim the grass. All this creates a bucolic setting, but the farm isn’t just there to look pretty. Olivette’s early residents are already swinging by the packing shed to pick up baskets of fresh produce grown right here—just one perk of living in an agrihood.