With new housing developments being built at a rapid rate in Columbia, developers need to find ways to make their projects unique. While some build a golf course or a pool, The Gates on the southwest side of Columbia is focusing on food, specifically Urban Agriculture. What that means is that the common space in the development will have fruit and vegetable plants instead of just ornamental landscaping. Adam Saunders from the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is in charge of the project and he believes this will give the development a unique identity.
“In a neighborhood, how can food be a focal point? And good food, good fresh produce be an identity and create a character of a neighborhood? That’s what we’re aiming to do here,” said Saunders.
The food will be available for all residents to go pick and eat right off the trees, and all the upkeep will be done by the Center for Urban Agriculture. They will put signs around the plants that are ready to be picked so residents know what is fresh and safe to eat. When the CCUA first approached Mike Tompkins, owner and developer of The Gates, he was immediately interested.
“I’m not the kind of person who likes to plant gardens and do that kind of thing but I want to eat the food, the good food that will make me live longer so I was intrigued by it and I thought, you know what, the people who live here will like this," said Tompkins.
The CCUA will not only take care of the common spaces but also offer gardening classes as well as help homeowners who want to plant a garden in their yards. Tompkins said this does not cost more than normal landscaping and is part of a resident’s yearly fee to the development.