New Countryside – Back to our American Roots

In the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression, it appears that Americans are seeking a return to a simpler way of life. They want to reconnect with food and nature. Reducing waste and expenses has become a priority. Live a little "smaller" than before is essential. Unfortunately, they are told that the only way to live responsibly is to return to a dense urban environment.

Land planners, environmentalists, and governments are pushing for a more centralized urban life. Their primary belief is that by increasing our density in urban areas, we can reduce our dependence on cars, use less resources and reduce our environmental impact. While this may satisfy a segment of our society, some people desire a quieter rural lifestyle. The question is whether we can balance the need for space with a relatively high density. One answer is "New Rural".

The “new countryside” is defined as a development that balances the need to minimize the total use of land for shelter and maximize land use in green spaces or sustainable agriculture. Other elements in New Ruralism restore their relationships with our neighbors, and learn to respect our food by understanding how to lift it and reconnect abroad. Much of what was meant to be American was a sense of independence based on self-sufficiency, matched by the ability to rely on a neighbor for help. In modern America, we lost much of what our ancestors identified.

A key component of the neo-colonial concept is high-density housing. At first this appears to contradict the rural idea for a new rural, but it leads to more greens. There are many reliable examples under the "new colonialism". An excellent example that has stood the test of time is the Israeli supervision. Unlike the Israeli kibbutz where the land is collectively owned, the Moshav has a private land for cultivation as well as land for a private house. Houses are arranged on relatively small plots while most of the land is left for cultivation. Close proximity to homes gives way to the nearest community, resulting in neighbors interacting with one another. Unlike urban settings, the overall feeling is pastoral and comfortable. It is interesting that there are some attempts in the United States to attract city residents to the country for agriculture. Unfortunately, they take vast tracts of land and leave many as isolated as they were in the city.

High-density housing makes room for larger open spaces that can be used in agriculture or left as a green space or a combination of the two. A piece of cultivation can come in many forms. A shared garden and teamwork can be cultivated. Alternately individual owners can rent packages for their gardens. With sufficiently large spaces, commercial operations can be used to supply an on-site restaurant. In Georgia, Serenby has a 25-acre farm providing vegetables for an on-site restaurant, breakfast and breakfast. Other developments such as Montaluce use the on-site vineyards to supply the grapes with wine. Some attempts are simply designed to include agriculture for the wealthy rather than trying to bring people closer to their food.

In New Ruralism, homeowners are becoming more related to food. With a global market, we can buy fruits and vegetables outside of the local seasons. Processed foods increase our separation from the plants and animals we eat. Our children have no idea where the foods they eat come from or how they are raised. By motivating homeowners to participate in growing fruits and vegetables or raising livestock, New Ruralism gives them new respect for the food they eat.

Along with restoring respect for food, homeowners are drawn to nature. We have lost so much in television, internet and other forms of indoor entertainment that we have forgotten the beauty of our surroundings. The same open area used for planting can also be used in greenery. Park and garden systems can help relax homeowners as well as better health.

Certainly there are restrictions on the "new countryside", but it is a good concept that gives people an alternative to urban life. We have been constantly told that crawling in the suburbs is a fundamental mistake and that we need to return to cities. Infill is the priority of development. There is something American about being contradictory. "New colonialism" is a great expression of our fundamental pursuit of freedom.