With continued awareness around GMOs, pesticides, the mistreatment of livestock and the negative implications of large-scale farming on the environment, it’s no surprise that urban farming has become a celebrated trend in recent years. A 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture claims around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas.
So what does this mean exactly? Well, you no longer have to own land to be a farmer. It can mean everything from growing herbs and small crops on the rooftop of a high-rise condo to raising chickens in a backyard, to planting food alongside neighbors in a community garden. Urban agriculture turns lawns, patios and parks into prolific farms, which creates more local food sources, builds communities, promotes sustainability and can make for a pretty fulfilling hobby!
To find out where the urban farming trend has been sprouting up, Redfin data scientists combed through thousands of home listings for keywords like ‘greenhouse,’ ‘garden’ and ‘chicken’ to see which cities have the most homes with these features per capita. Based on our findings, here are the top 10 U.S. cities for urban farming:
1. Eugene, OR
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 1.4%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 17.8%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 1.29%
Median Sale Price: $256,000
“Eugenians love their gardens!” said Megan Kemple, program director at Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. “It’s not uncommon to see vegetables growing in front yards, or hear chickens clucking from backyards. The downtown farmers market is bustling on any Saturday and the local food scene is thriving.”
According to Eugene-or.gov, there are six community gardens in Eugene, with a total of more than 300 plots. The City of Eugene has also played a big role in facilitating urban agriculture by allowing residents to keep more animals, like chickens and goats, on their property.
“The City of Eugene is proud of the land use standards related to keeping farm animals on property inside the city limits, known as the Urban Animal Keeping Standards,” Kristie Brown, land use supervisor for the City of Eugene, told Redfin. “They allow an increase in the number of farm animals allowed, while addressing compatibility and neighborhood livability issues within the urban environment. The standards are intended to facilitate urban agriculture and support locally produced food for greater sustainability and livability.”
A local store, The Eugene Backyard Farmer, sells a medley of supplies for urban farming including seeds, gardening tools, soil and even chicks and ducklings.
So why Eugene and not Portland? Redfin real estate agent Matthew Brennan says Eugene is more affordable and has more space than Portland, making it a destination for those who crave a sustainable lifestyle.
2. Burlington, VT
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.9%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 16.7%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 1.25%
Median Sale Price: $243,000
Burlington, the most populated city in Vermont, came in second on our list, with 18.85 percent of all listings containing one of our keywords. It’s no surprise — the state of Vermont has nearly 400 community, school and group gardens!
Alison Nihart, assistant to the food systems initiative at the University of Vermont, said Burlington offers a myriad of benefits to urban food producers including a robust community gardening program run by the city, and strong farm-to-school programs in the Burlington School District, including school gardens and summer programs for students.
The city also has an innovative and progressive municipal policy that supports urban livestock and garden structures like greenhouses and hoophouses, Nihart says.
Urban gardeners in Burlington have access to many resources, including the Vermont Community Garden Network, which teaches kids and adults how to grow their own food and connects local gardeners to resources and to each other.
3. Santa Rosa, CA
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.7%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 15.0%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.5%
Median Sale Price: $475,000
Santa Rosa grabbed the number three spot on our list, with 16.2 percent of listings containing one of our keywords. According to Raissa de la Rosa, economic development and marketing coordinator for the City of Santa Rosa, the city is built, in part, on the merging of “urban” and “farming.”
“It’s in our history,” she said. “Luther Burbank called it ‘the chosen spot of all this earth as far as nature is concerned.’ We’re a city of makers and doers, with strong ties to the land. We have robust communities within our granges and guilds that connect more broadly to the city through our many farmers’ markets as well as our own personal gardens. It’s just the way we live here!”
Danielle O’Leary, economic development manager for the City, agrees that urban farming is very important to their local economy.
“It provides food security, it creates entrepreneurs and local jobs and enriches our quality of life,” she said.
Sonoma County, she says, is a very biodiverse region, which allows residents to produce high quality organic foods and artisan products. Those products, she says, are often sought out by many of the top chefs and restaurants in the Bay Area.
4. Greenville, SC
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.5%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 15.5%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.15%
Median Sale Price: $159,000
Residents of Greenville, a beautiful city in the upstate region of South Carolina, have also shown an interest in urban farming. Sixteen percent of listings in Greenville included one of our keywords.
Redfin real estate agent Jim Brown says much of the demand for farm-friendly housing is driven by health-conscious millennials who are flocking to Greenville due to its quality of life, low living costs and high-tech and engineering job opportunities.
“As I tour the more urban areas in and around downtown Greenville, I see small gardens on patios and rooftops with herbs and vegetables growing,” he said. “Out in the suburbs I am seeing more extensive gardens and an increasing number of chicken coops on properties. A strong effort by several local restaurant groups promoting ‘farm to table’ locally grown fare has also contributed to this growing trend.”
A local organization called Gardening for Good focuses on supporting existing community gardens, and has partnered up with LiveWell Greenville to build new gardens in food deserts of Greenville county.
“Urban farming is certainly on the rise in Greenville with the success of Mill Village Farms, the new Reedy River Farms and Greenville County Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s many new community center-based food gardens,” said Aerin Bronwlee, coordinator for the organization. “We are seeing a rapid increase in interest in edible home landscaping, permaculture and urban home livestock as evidenced by the almost 1000 members of the South Carolina Upstate Permaculture Society.”
Brownlee says she’s seen the impact that urban farming has made on the community, and it hasn’t been a small one.
“Urban farming is reconnecting people to their food,” she said. “Seeing fresh produce growing alongside the road on your way to work reminds you where your food comes from, what unprocessed food looks like and that you can have easy access to these healthy, local foods at your convenience. Local children benefit from touring these urban farms, so close to their homes, schools and playgrounds. They learn about nutrition, the environment and whole food production, hopefully encouraging a future generation of urban farmers.”
5. Orlando, FL
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.1%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 14.9%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.12%
Median Sale Price: $178,000
Orlando came in at number five on our list, and according to Redfin’s Orlando real estate agent Marydell Penney the city has been largely involved in community garden initiatives, which explains the prevalence of the keyword ‘garden’ in listings.
“There’s one existing neighborhood in east Orlando that has a community garden – Laureate Park at Lake Nona,” she said. “ And there’s a huge $1B community in the works, called an ‘agrihood’, that will go above and beyond with a nine-acre farm.”
Brent Buffington, executive director of Growing Orlando, told Redfin that in comparison to other cities, Orlando still has a lot of ground to make up in the food movement.
“The reason there is a lot of buzz right now is people are pouring full energies into reshaping the food system in Orlando,” he said. “Many people are starting their own gardens, community gardens are popping up everywhere, and we’re seeing new food markets and food producers stepping up to the plate to begin to meet the city’s needs. We have also begun reversing old laws to allow for a more dynamic food economy that includes laying hens, front yard gardens and urban farms.”
There are several nonprofits in the Orlando area that are working to reshape the city’s food system. A nonprofit called IDEAS For Us started an initiative called fleet farming, which helps set up home farms and utilizes bicycles to bring fresh produce to local venues and farmers markets.
6. San Francisco, CA
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.1%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 14.4%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.22%
Median Sale Price: $1,150,000
Farming may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Bay Area, but San Francisco snagged the number six spot on our list with 14.7 percent of all listings containing one of our keywords. Joey Kahn, media relations and policy manager for the Recreation & Park Department at City & County of San Francisco, told Redfin their department has made great strides to promote urban agriculture.
“Just last year, our Urban Agriculture Program donated more than 11,000 plants to gardeners in every zip code in San Francisco,” he said. “As a department, we are continuing to provide the infrastructure, resources and support for the public to steward and activate our open spaces with urban agriculture, and it’s exciting to see that so many are picking up urban ag as a hobby.”
Organizations like the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance offer educational resources and a community for those interested in urban agriculture. Others, like Community Grows and Slide Ranch, aim to connect children with nature, and teach the fundamentals of gardening, cooking, healthy living and sustainability.
7. Albuquerque, NM
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.4%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 13.7%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.28%
Median Sale Price: $219,000
Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, came in at number seven on our list with 14.4 percent of all listings containing one of our keywords. Denise Lane, a Redfin real estate agent in New Mexico, wasn’t surprised to see her city on the list. She’s currently selling a home with chickens!
“Albuquerque is a chicken friendly town!” she said. “And city zoning allows homeowners to keep livestock, not just chickens. We frequently get to visit well designed urban gardens and chicken coops on our home tours here. Buyers enjoy living in a city that encourages sustainability practices.”
Lane says the sunshine and moderate high desert climate supports the objectives of the sustainably minded community — and there are abundant resources to help community members interested in getting involved.
“There are great resources for Burquenos to get local advice in sustainable living,” she said. “The Old School, a hub of experts, offers classes in frugal, traditional and sustainable living. For $7 you can take an hour-long class on the basics of raising urban chickens.”
Duke City Fix, a local community blog, runs a forum called ABQ Chicken Keepers that is also a great resource for those new to raising chickens. Urban farmers can also join the Facebook page Albuquerque Urban Farm and Garden Cooperative to network with other gardeners and participate in events like seed swaps.
8. Columbia, SC
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.1%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 13.7%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.20%
Median Sale Price: $125,000
Columbia came in at number eight on our list for its large percentage of listings with the keyword ‘garden.’ However, very few listings contained the keyword ‘chicken.’
Jessica Nelson, Redfin team lead in Columbia, says there aren’t many areas in the city that actually allow chickens, but that there is a bit of farm land north of Columbia, and severals schools that teach farming and gardening practices.
“My sister is a local second grade teacher and she just did a project in her class with an incubator with 12 eggs,” she said. “Her class got to watch them hatch and the students got to take them home. In general, I have seen an increase in the number of people doing small gardening projects in their yards.”
A local organization called City Roots grows 125 varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as keeps bees for honey and pollination, and raises chickens for eggs. Community members can sign up for a share program where they receive locally grown organic produce every week.
9. Tampa, FL
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.1%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 13%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.06%
Median Sale Price: $176,000
Tampa claimed the ninth spot on our list with 13 percent of listings containing one of our three keywords. Redfin market manager Wendy Peterson believes the trend is largely due to a demand for healthy food options, and the growing popularity of farm-to-table dining. Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, allows each resident to own two chickens, she says.
Tanja Vidovic, a homeowner in Tampa who grows her own organic fruits and vegetables at home, has seen a rising interest in urban gardening over the past few years.
“Our little garden group is 3,000 members and growing!” she told Redfin. “Edible gardening seems to be a part of life here; you can’t go more than a few houses without seeing fruit trees or edible landscaping.”
She says growing her own food has been life changing.
“It started with a small bed on a hill, because we didn’t know what to do with the hill. After it died a few months later, we started to research how to do it right and all the different options that were out there,” she said. “That is when we found out about all the different chemicals and poisons that are put on plants, and when we decided to grow everything organically. Now, I only plant things that are either edible or useful.”
Will Carey, executive director of Tampa Bay Harvest, has 20 years of experience in the field of hunger related issues, and says urban farming is reshaping and rebuilding Orlando’s communities.
“Urban farming is impacting Tampa in a few ways, starting with people eating and living healthier, more sustainable lifestyles,” he said. “But it’s also rebuilding community. People of all ages and backgrounds can and do garden.”
10. Raleigh-Durham, NC
Listings with ‘Chicken’: 0.2%
Listings with ‘Garden’: 12.7%
Listings with ‘Greenhouse’: 0.11%
Median Sale Price: $223,000
Last, but definitely not least on our list is Raleigh-Durham, NC, with 13 percent of listings containing one of our keywords. Madeline McBride, a Raleigh-Durham Redfin agent, says she’s not surprised to see her city on the list.
“The Raleigh Durham area has seen a lot of great transformation over the past few years,” she said. “Old factories are being turned into restaurants, and living downtown is becoming increasingly popular. Raleigh is a very ‘hip’ town, and one of the ‘hip’ things right now is chickens. I’ve had two separate clients looking specifically for properties that not only would be a great new home for them, but also for their beloved chickens!”
McBride says it wasn’t difficult at all to find properties that allow homeowners to keep chickens, and she was even able to find a few with nice, ready-to-use chicken coops. She says gardens are also very popular in the area.
“Anyone who walks around downtown will find green spaces and community gardens popping up in every nook and cranny between the old buildings,” she said. “Many homes on the market already have gardens and composting stations, but what really makes Raleigh-Durham unique is that many people are getting involved with shared gardens, which really seems to bring communities together.”
That wraps up our list! Does urban farming seem to be a growing trend in your city? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Twitter, and check out this piece to learn how to start your own urban garden.
Redfn data scientists combed through all homes that were listed on Redfin.com in 2015 for keywords “greenhouse,” “garden” and “chicken” to find which cities had the highest percentage of homes per capita with those features mentioned in the listing. Only cities with populations greater than 300,000 were included in the analysis. Median home sale prices were taken from Redfin.com, and were not a determining factor in this ranking.
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