Suburban Phoenix, in the Sonoran desert, shows a repetitive development pattern: clusters of townhomes or detached homes, each cluster architecturally uniform, often walled or gated, strung out along wide, straight arterial streets.  Many through streets are generously planted with a variety of desert trees, but they’re motor vehicle routes all the same; the opportunity to escape into a pathway or laneway is rare, and many of the quieter side streets end in cul-de-sacs.

In the 1990s a landowning family in the municipality of Gilbert decided to try something slightly different: a development of diverse housing types and workplaces arranged around a small organic farm and a Christian school.  They boldly named it “Agritopia.” The 450 homes are now completed and occupied, and the farm produces food for the family-owned diner that attracts customers from across the region, and for other nearby cafes and markets. Continue reading