Wisconsin’s first “Agrihood” offers a collaborative community located around a farm setting where residents can connect with nature and their neighbors while having the opportunity to enjoy farm-to-table living. Combining new technology with old solutions to farming challenges, residents of the Agape Agrihood are embracing this connection to nature with clean, renewable solar energy with the help of Arch Electric.
Located near Mukwonago, the Agape Agrihood consists of ten 1.5 acre lots on 14+ acres of Agrihood open area within the development bordering 40+ acres of conservancy. Agape residents will be able to prepare their own farm-to-table meals using crops and beef sourced right from their own neighborhood. Members of Agape can enjoy the benefits of a rural lifestyle only minutes from Mukwonago and less than 40 minutes from downtown Milwaukee. While this is the first Agrihood in Wisconsin, other states in the US have seen success with these model communities.
Agrihoods are cropping up across the country as many Americans are looking for ways to return to a community and nature-centered lifestyle. The Agritopia in Phoenix, Arizona is centered around an urban farm with over 450 homes as well as commercial, agricultural, and open space regions. Agrihoods could be a great solution for many Wisconsinites looking to preserve a rural, agricultural focused lifestyle while focusing on sustainability in the changing 21st century. Conventional modern farming poses many challenges for sustainable agriculture such as water contamination, soil erosion, and the dependence on artificial pesticides and fertilizers. Farming in Agrihoods on the other hand typically prioritizes sustainability and reducing environmental impact. Rather than producing one crop in large amounts, Agrihoods utilize crop rotation techniques to produce a variety of foods that will be consumed by the residents and their neighboring communities. An often overlooked benefit of this is the lack of transportation and storage that type of farming requires. All the pollution and expense from transporting the crops by truck or cargo ship are removed when the food is consumed locally.
With a focus on sustainability, Agrihoods are the perfect fit for solar energy. Rick Ziller is one of the Agape residents who has taken advantage of renewable solar energy with Arch Electric. Rick and his family were intrigued by the concept of living naturally in a close-knit community that shared their values. Grid-tied solar systems allow homeowners like the Zillers to not only reduce or eliminate their energy bills but also provide clean energy back to the grid. New advances in energy storage technology coupled with solar offers an even greater impact in energy independence and long-term sustainability.
When battery storage is installed alongside solar panels homeowners can store the extra energy produced during the day for use when the sun has gone down. This can provide savings through avoiding demand rates or time of use charges, but it also provides backup power in case the grid goes down for any reason. In the past, diesel generators where a common solution for grid blackouts but these produce excessive greenhouse gases and require an outside fuel source at cost for the homeowner. For residents of Agrihoods, solar battery storage greatly increases their ability to rely on the natural resources in their community and reduces their dependence on less-sustainable energy sources.
While the Agape Agrihood is the first of its kind in our state, it points to a future where we can enjoy the benefits of a rural, agricultural, community that is important to many Wisconsinites. Combining this lifestyle with solar energy and battery storage means that Agrihoods are both financially practical and environmentally sustainable.
For more information on Agape Agrihood visit: http://www.agapeagrihood.com/
Images of the solar homes in the Agape Agrihood.