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On the outskirts of Des Moines, you’ll find the small town of Cummings. Close to Interstate Highway 35 and Iowa Highway 5, it’s only about 10 minutes from West Des Moines and 20 minutes from downtown. Its city council just gave developer Steve Bruere the go-ahead to begin work on the Middlebrook development, a roughly $260 million project and Iowa’s first agrihood. This planned community, centered around working farms and community gardens, offers country life without straying from the city.
What is an Agrihood?
An agrihood, getting its name from an agricultural neighborhood, is a small town built to include vegetable farms, orchards, vineyards, gardens, along with housing and retail developments. It’s a place where families have the space to raise chickens and source their produce from local farmers and CSAs, while also living in close proximity to an urban area. The agrihood of Middlebrook would offer a variety of options, including senior housing, apartments, condos, townhomes, homes for first-time buyers, and high-end estates.
An Emerging Trend
Though this agrihood will be Iowa's first, it’s certainly not a new concept. With over 200 recently built around the country, developers are responding to a growing consumer demand for country living close to the city. With the increase in popularity of farmers markets and a resurgence of backyard gardening, it’s no surprise that these communities are a growing trend.
Not the Suburbs
An agrihood isn’t the same thing as a suburb. It is much more centered around agriculture and farming than a typical suburb. Equally important, it doesn’t require a long drive to reach urban conveniences. A short drive in the suburbs usually just gets you to more houses, but a short drive from Middlebrook, for example, will get you to the heart of Des Moines. These developments are looking to make agriculture accessible to urban areas instead of maintaining a large separation between the two.
There’s a wide range of benefits to living in this type of community. Residents will have a connection to their farmer and where their food comes from. They’ll also be able to grow and raise their own food. With a small-town feel, agrihoods offer a real sense of community and a much slower pace than city living. It’s also a great opportunity for families who value getting their kids outdoors. All of this, without having to sacrifice the conveniences of nearby Des Moines.
These developments aren’t without challenges, and Middlebrook is in its earliest stages, but it looks to be a promising development for Des Moines. For residents who want to connect with Iowa’s rural roots while still enjoying all that Des Moines has to offer, an agrihood could be the perfect solution. What are your thoughts on the Middlebrook development? Share them in the comments.