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The Most Innovative Retirement Living Idea Yet – The Urban HomeFarm

Category: Green Retirement Communities

November 30, 2105 — We have just seen the most interesting idea for productive, sustainable retirement living yet. The idea is from an architectural firm called Spark, which won first prize for Future- Experimental Project at the 2015 World Architecture Festival held in Singapore. Their winning project, HomeFarm, is a sustainable residential development for seniors with these clever features:
– Urban apartments in sizes that allow multi-generational living
– Vertical aquaponic farming on the building’s exterior walls
– Curvilinear building with central courtyard
– Soil based garden plots on staggered terraces and rooftops
– Use of collected rain water and grey water for farming purposes
– Fruits and vegetable marketplace where residents can sell their wares
– Fish waste as fertilizer
– Agricultural waste is fed into an onsite biomass power plant

Spark hopes to have the first HomeFarm up and running by 2030 in the crowded urban nation of Singapore. The productive garden feature provides a modest income for its elderly residents. HomeFarm was designed to keep its residents connected to the wider community through its public facilities that include a clinic, nursery/child care, farm shop and food court. It also intends to provide a familiar caring family environment for those who require medical care in their later years. It aims to provide a cross section of accommodation for single residents through to 3 generation apartments.

The Sparks Urban Home Farm Concept

According to the company, “HomeFarm is a conceptual proposal for the next generation of urban retirement housing. It presents a living and farming typology for Singapore (or elsewhere) that combines apartments and facilities for seniors with vertical urban farming. Seniors live in a high-density garden environment created by a vegetable farm, where they may find employment. SPARK’s aim is to generate discussion about the many potentials that can emerge from the mixing of two typically separate realms. The research-based design addresses two pressing challenges faced by Singapore: how the city state might support a rapidly aging society, and how it might enhance its food security (90% of which is currently imported)”.

In the Americas and Europe the issue of imported food is not a big issue (although we do have a rapidly aging society, many of whom will not have enough to live on comfortably). The attraction of giving seniors a productive outlet where they can live amidst growing agricultural products is very appealing. That it is sustainable and environmentally responsible is great. And if it allows people in the community to supplement their incomes and grow some of their own food, that is pretty nice too.

We are wondering – who will be the first American or European builder will be to take advantage of this groundbreaking approach to retirement?

Comments? Let us know your thoughts about this idea in the Comments section below. Could HomeFarm work in your city? Do you have other groundbreaking ideas for how seniors can find community and be productive we should know about?

For further reading:
Green Retirement Living (all of our Blog articles on this topic)

Posted by Admin on November 30th, 2015


  1. The United States has a somewhat related concept: agrihoods, where the central “amenity” is a working farm. Here’s an article from the NY Times about this concept:

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

    by Jan Cullinane — December 1, 2015

  2. Our neighborhood has a neighborhood garden, where young and old plant vegetables and tend to their own little plots. It has been quite successful and a lot of fun. So why not a commune of people, living and working together for the greater good.

    by DeyErmand — December 2, 2015

  3. I LOVE this idea! Mainly because i don’t want to maintain a lawn, but want to have enough open space around me that i can enjoy beautiful views. I also love gardening. However, once again, i don’t want to live crowded. That implies suburbia to me, and i’ve had enough of that! There are so few communities that don’t crowd the homes together without catering to millionaires. (This is meant literally, not figuratively.)

    by ella — December 2, 2015

  4. Sorry, i should have stated (above) that living in the woods provides a lawn-free environment, but no views.

    by ella — December 2, 2015

  5. Not a fan of this concept my wife would go bonkers. All the bugs, snakes, and rodents it would make my life a full time job again LOL.

    by Tony — December 2, 2015

  6. So where ARE there some agrihoods in the U.S. Already?

    by Victor — December 8, 2015

  7. Hi Victor,

    A good website for agrihoods:

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

    by Jan Cullinane — December 10, 2015

  8. Jan,
    The community in VA looks amazing; but i want to live in a more rural area. Anything like that in SW VA or any of the other Blue Ridge States? Thanks!

    by ella — December 11, 2015

  9. It’s a growing movement, but there doesn’t seem to be one in the vicinity you desire – I know the one in Ashburn didn’t fit the bill for you. There is a brand new one that is in the planning stages in a rural area of Florida, but it is encountering, as do most new developments, opposition from neighbors.

    Here’s the link:

    And, even if this area doesn’t appeal to you, you have to love the phrase “edible walking trails” in the description!

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

    by Jan Cullinane — December 12, 2015

  10. Sounds delicious!

    by ella — December 12, 2015

  11. this request came in by email:

    I’m looking for a community that has gardening growing your own food greenhouse

    Here is our response:

    Hmm, that is a pretty specific request. you can try using our Search
    and select “Gardens for Communities”. They wont all be food gardens, but it is a start.
    Good luck

    by Admin — December 12, 2015

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