On the Cutting Edge of ‘Green’

Before the final decision is made. One amenity that’s sure to get their attention is the on-site vegetable garden. Whether it’s on the roof or at ground level, offering residents the opportunity to grow their own produce is not only the cutting edge thing to do—it also immediately raises your organization’s green profile.

Should you be offering residents a vegetable plot? 

Diana-120x150

Before the final decision is made. One amenity that’s sure to get their attention is the on-site vegetable garden. Whether it’s on the roof or at ground level, offering residents the opportunity to grow their own produce is not only the cutting edge thing to do—it also immediately raises your organization’s green profile. At the same time, it provides a great way for residents to bond over a common activity that can lead, ultimately, to happier residents and a reduction in turnovers. But before you make the decision to incorporate this, or any of the green amenities touched on by MHN Senior Editor Joshua Ayers in this month’s cover story (“Green Amenities: Budding Trends in Apartment Living,” page 18), be sure to have a clear strategy in mind. “It’s one thing to put in the community garden, but how are we programming it for the residents to actually use it? How does it become an amenity through the programming itself? That’s probably where the heavy lifting is going to continue to be in our industry,” observes Crescent Communities’ director of innovation and sustainability, Jenny Vallimont. At Vulcan Inc.’s multifamily projects in Seattle, community gardens have been incorporated into the design concept and then, during lease-up, an urban gardener is hired to plant and tend to the garden until the plots are later assigned to residents. “The main reason we decided to work with an urban gardener is to assure [the garden] will look presentable during lease-up as well as to educate the residents on caring for the planters once we transfer them over to the community,” explains Megan Murphy, Vulcan Inc.’s residential marketing manager. This consultant also teaches residents what types of vegetables and herbs to plant and when to harvest them. Urban agriculture (along with suburban retrofitting and “tactical urbanism”) also promises to play a prominent role in New Urbanist development projects as the movement enters its second generation. The movement has transformed the multifamily industry over the past 20 plus years and influenced the work of countless developers of all sizes. MHN Executive Editor Keat Foong takes a look at what’s new with new urbanism in this month’s Development & Design feature (page 22). Her research suggests we’ll continue to be talking about urban (and suburban) agriculture for a long time. Do you think apartment communities should be providing residents with the option to grow their own fruits and vegetables? Or, is this a passing fad? Email your comments to dmosher@multi-housingnews.com.

Diana Mosher, Editorial Director
dmosher@multi-housingnews.com