How do agrihoods benefit farmers?
Answer: Agrihoods are a type of housing subdivision design that is built around a working farm, with much of the land preserved for growing food or set aside in conservation easements.
Since most agrihoods are based around a working farm, they can also provide steady jobs to the farm managers. Given the low income typically earned by many farmers (especially beginning farmers), the benefits of working at an agrihood can be significant. USDA’s 2014 agricultural census estimates that 57 percent of America’s farms gross less than $10,000 a year. That means more than half of all farmers in America have to rely on second, and sometimes third, jobs off the farm to cover living expenses.
Often an agrihood will hire a farm manager and pay a much higher salary than the farmer could make managing his own land. And agrihoods can provide a great first job to beginning farmers who can’t afford their own land but are willing to work on the agrihood in exchange for a steady salary and great experience. Besides the salary, the farmer and his or her family are often provided with free housing on the farm, which is a major benefit. And farmers living on-site are better able to handle farm chores and deal with farm management issues than someone living further away from the farm.
Farmers in nearby areas can also benefit from an agrihood, since agrihoods often serve as an agricultural educational center. Farmers in surrounding areas are invited to participate in workshops and field days at the agrihood, with topics ranging from beginning farmer issues to marketing organic produce. The local agricultural community may also interact with agrihood residents during these workshops. Agrihoods often serve as a nexus for weekend farmers markets, which may attract surrounding farmers who sell their local produce to agrihood residents.
You’ll benefit from reading the ATTRA publication Agrihoods: Development-Supported Agriculture. This publication introduces the concept of agrihoods, describes the different types, and discusses benefits and challenges. Case studies of U.S. agrihood developments are profiled as well.