Story / History


About

Agritopia® community is something of a modern day village set within the urban fabric of the Phoenix metro area. The name says it all: Agritopia® is about preserving urban agriculture and integrating it into the most neighborly, well-designed community possible. It is a principle-driven development that puts people and relationships ahead of money and trendiness. We believe that a simple life with friends and family is a rich life. The design of the community is intended to breakdown traditional barriers between people to encourage formation of real community among people of varied backgrounds .


Location

Agritopia® is located at the Northwest corner of Higley and Ray Roads. Freeway access is easy. The San Tan Freeway (Loop 202) forms the northern border of the property and has an exit at Higley Road. The community is 160 acres and has 1/2 mile of Higley Road frontage and 3/4 mile of Ray Road frontage.

Agritopia® is in close proximity to ASU Polytechnic (2 mi), Chandler-Gilbert Community College (2 mi), Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (2 mi), Crossroads Park (1/2 mi), San Tan Village Regional Mall (1 mi), Mercy Gilbert Hospital (2 mi), and the award-winning Cosmo Dog Park (adjacent).

The community is comprised of 450 residential lots along with commercial, agricultural, and open space tracts. Agritopia is gridded with tree-lined streets and pathways to make the entire project accessible to pedestrians. The major connector street within the community is Agritopia Loop, which arcs its way from Ray Road north and east to Higley Road.

The farm office is on Ray Road, one-quarter mile west of Higley Road in the Agro-commercial area.



History

During the early 1900′s, Gilbert was known as the “Hay Capitol” of the world due to the dominance of alfalfa hay on the local farms. In 1927, the Reber family homesteaded a farm on the dirt roads named Higley and Ray. They built barns, sheds, and a small home and began farming hay. By 1960, when the Johnston family bought the farm, the crops of choice had changed to cotton and wheat. Jim Johnston and his wife, Virginia, thought that this farm would be the perfect size for a family farm and an ideal place to raise their three boys, Joe, Steve, and Paul.

They built a home on the farm (which is now Joe’s Farm Grill) and lived a very rural, independent life. The boys all attended Higley Elementary School and Gilbert High School and worked on the farm during the summers and as needed by Jim. After Steve and Paul graduated from University of Arizona, majoring in agriculture, they returned to the farm and continued the family farming tradition. By the late 1990′s, Gilbert was growing rapidly and it became clear that the farm would soon be surrounded by housing. The family made the decision to start planning what would become of the farm after nearly 40 years of farming.

The eldest son, Joe, had taken a different path and had become an engineer. He spearheaded the design of what would become Agritopia®. Working with a land planner, landscape architects, and others in the development community, a land plan that met the family’s goals was created. It preserved urban agriculture, was very walkable, neighborly, broke down barriers between people, and had many use categories. In 2000, the Town of Gilbert approved the zoning and land plan for Agritopia® and construction began.

Today, all of the homes in the residential portion of the community have been built, as well as some of the commercial properties. The Johnston family still lives in Agritopia®.