​Home grown: Moving next to the farm


Life in the suburbs is changing as more and more communities are springing upon around working farms.

CBS News

When it comes to feasting, more and more Americans these days are enjoying food that is "home grown" -- or at the very least, food that comes from the farm right next door. Mark Strassmann reports our Cover Story (An earlier version of this report was originally broadcast on November 22, 2015.):

All you foodies, take a closer look: this tree-lined, suburban street might lead to heaven on Earth.

"I would say that probably 80% of the food that we eat comes from within a five-mile radius of this house," said Clay Johnson. "These peppers, yeah, come from 50 feet away!"

Johnson and Rosalyn Lemieux moved their family here from Washington, D.C., two years ago. Their five-bedroom, five-bathroom home sits 40 minutes south of downtown Atlanta.

They bought here for the close-knit neighborhood -- and an organic farm right beyond their backyard.

"We had a friend from New York City come down here and ask us if it was decorative, the farm!" Johnson laughed. "He would say, like, 'Did they put those hay bales out there? Is that an art installation?'"

But this isn't the TV series "Green Acres," in which Oliver and Lisa Douglas were city folk trying their hand at farming. Johnson and Lemieux are technology consultants living in a subdivision called Serenbe -- 250 homes, and growing.

The big draw here is not swim, tennis or golf, but a real working farm.

"To be clear, we're not roughing it," said Lemieux. "That farm is cared for by professional farmers. We buy the food. We are lucky to be so close to it, to be able to benefit. But we're not having to go out there and, you know, hoe the farm!"

Serenbe farm manager Ashley Rodgers with correspondent Mark Strassmann. CBS News

Steve Nygren, Serenbe's developer, said, "People love the idea of sitting on their back porch and watching the farmers grow the food."

He said the idea of putting a working farm in the subdivision's center came from having grown up on a farm. He comes from a long line of farmers from Colorado.

Nygren had opened and owned more than 30 restaurants when he bought 60 acres of farmland in 1994. And gradually, that family farm became Serenbe.

He was nervous about urban sprawl, and decided to develop a community his way. Today, Serenbe has 1,000 acres. Its clusters of homes are surrounded by walking trails and horse stables. But at the center of it all: 25 acres set aside for agriculture.

"The first 20 lots that I priced were sold in 48 hours," said Hygren. "And the next group [was] sold in about six weeks. So I realized that there was actually the market demand for what we were talking about."

As an approach, Serenbe grew from the same farm-to-table movement that has changed restaurant menus and brought farmers markets to more and more neighborhoods. This community planted itself at the forefront of the latest development trend: the "agrihood."