37 houses for sale; buyers share in vegetable farm
Farmers Forum staff
THORNBURY — A new residential community proposed in Grey County hopes to tap an urbanite hankering for farm life and homegrown food by building houses around a collectively-owned fruit and vegetable farm.
Located at the corner of Grey Road 2 and Grey Road 40, Thornbury Acres is touted as Ontario’s first residential farm cooperative — similar to a condominium but with individually-built homes on one large, shared property. Toronto-based developer Castlepoint Numa intends to transform 152 acres into 37 “homesteads” of about 1.5 acres each
Each homestead will be allocated an 800-square-foot market plot in a common area on the farm to cover all of their annual vegetable needs. In addition, 52 acres would be dedicated to agricultural production, including garden plots, fruit orchards, a market garden, butternut meadow, bee apiary, and community food market that would be run by a full-time farm manager. Residents all share in receiving a portion of honey and other produce grown on the farm. Condo-style co-op fees would pay for the manager and produce sold would offset condo fees.
The proposal was described in detail to the local municipal council at a recent public meeting in the Town of The Blue Mountains. Castlepoint Numa is seeking amendments to the official plan and zoning bylaws to allow the novel development to move forward. The land is currently zoned Rural and Special Ag. A golf course was previously approved for the site.
The proposal has “triggered an incredible response,” one of the project proponents, Harley Valentine, said on the Beyond Health podcast. Valentine noted that a residential farm cooperative is specifically permitted by the municipality’s official plan, though it was originally written to accommodate additional family members on a commercial farm. “We are actually looking at this policy … as the answer to get families into farming,” he said.