Dan Allen
Dan Allen

2016 Year in Review

Agrihoods, Rooftop Farms and Front Yard Gardens

As we enjoy a much-needed rainy January, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the new projects that we tackled in the past year and review some emerging trends.

2016 was a big year of growth as our staff increased in size from 20 employees to 30. Interest in urban farming, and the fresh produce that it generates, is becoming increasingly mainstream as professional sports teams and developers have joined forward-looking homeowners in adding food crops to their landscapes. We’re thrilled, as this interest allows us to generate new living wage jobs and explore creative ways in which fresh produce and dynamic food-centric landscapes can enrich our daily lives.

Our work with multi-family home developers, in particular, allows us to directly achieve our mission of using vegetable gardens to cultivate and nourish communities. In Southern California, we’ve managed the farm at Terrena Apartments in Northridge since 2014. Nestled directly outside their leasing office, the farm leaves a strong impression on prospective tenants while offering weekly harvests to residents. Meanwhile, herb pots are located throughout the property adjacent to barbecue grills for easy harvesting.

In this context, the vegetable garden serves an attractive and cost-effective amenity for residents in the vein of a fitness center or swimming pool.

Developers in Northern California have taken this notion a step further with the creation of “agrihoods.” The first agrihood dates back to 2000, but the concept is starting to catch fire now with organic farms serving as the focal point in new communities instead of golf courses. Over the past year, we’ve debuted projects in San Mateo, Mountain View and Santa Clara with more slated to break ground in 2017. Quarterly garden parties for community members, such as the one pictured below, supplement weekly Farmscape visits to build a sense of community around the farm space.

The move toward agrihoods has been noted in a few publications, including ForbesGlobeSt and Dwell. We’re excited to build upon that momentum in the coming year.

Meanwhile, we collaborated with the San Francisco 49ers to debut the NFL’s first rooftop farm at Levi’s Stadium, which spans 6,000 sq ft. The farm provides fresh produce for facility staff and on-site restaurants daily, while creating a beautiful setting for STEAM education.

At the residential level, front yard gardens are becoming more common, like this one pictured below in Culver City. A decade ago such a garden would have risked censure from the city and neighbors. Now it’s a point of pride as water-wise landscaping is incentivized rather than rebuked, and bountiful harvests are shared with friends, family, colleagues and neighbors.

In all, we now manage more than 275 sites on a weekly basis, generating an estimated 200,000 pounds of produce annually. We’re grateful to the clients, vendors, staff and community members who have helped us grow, and are looking forward to another successful year.