North Carolina ‘Agrihood’ Features Farm as Anchor Amenity

Filed in Design, Land Development by on August 21, 2018 0 Comments

Olivette, an agrihood just outside Asheville, North Carolina that opened for sale in 2016, is one of the earlier developments to address communities’ millennia-long draw to farms and the modern desire for amenities and technology.

The 346-acre planned community sits along the French Broad River and represents an intersection of nature, technology and community. The first phase, with 52 home sites, has 11 acres of community space and seven miles of hiking trails that extend into future phases. At buildout, the community is expected to have about 300 homes.

Olivette boasts a seven-acre riverfront beach and large private river island, while its homes feature environmentally friendly technology, such as geothermal heating and cooling, and modern necessities like fiber-to-home internet. An organic farm at Olivette’s center provides a sense of community for the development.

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A Desire for Connection

Founded by Scott Austin, William Dickerson and Allison Smith, the development is sweeping and ambitious — and has not been without its challenges.

The long-term plan for the farm’s viability was to have residents subscribe and receive weekly batches of fresh local produce. During the home building process, the harvest is being sold to local farm-to-table restaurants and through local farmer’s markets.

“We believed that people desire a connection with each other and with the land, and the concept grew beyond our expectations,” Smith said. “The farm-to-table lifestyle has been very well received. Sales have been brisk.”

One of the biggest risks and expenses of the project also constitutes its heart: The 46-acre organic farm they envisioned to anchor their community.

“The plan was to have this farm that residents can either be involved with or simply take advantage of as an amenity the way other developments might have swimming pools or golf courses,” Austin said. “But the farm itself was up and running long before the rest of the development.”

Buyers Want Farm-Front Lots

Local reaction clearly shows that Austin, Dickerson and Smith were correct in their belief that the farm itself would be a draw and help create their community. While most developments see their waterfront property snapped up immediately, Olivette’s buyers have been interested in home sites near the farm. This was something no one expected or predicted, but it certainly functions as a proof-of-concept: Phase One is about 70% sold out.

With a development of this size, the founders know there will be more challenges ahead.

“You can prepare and project, make sure that you have done what you can from your end to ensure there have been no mistakes and pay attention to every last detail, but ultimately, there will be surprises along the way,” Austin said. “Having the patience to realize this upfront is crucial – and having a plan ahead of time to deal with the unknowns is imperative.”

This post was adapted from an article in the Summer 2018 issue of Best in American LivingRead the issue for more pictures of Olivette and other stories. Author Ava Milton is a freelance writer.

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