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Urban Meets Country – The Locavore Movement Makes Backyard Gardens Attractive Selling Point in Home Sales

Updated on January 29, 2021
MarleneB profile image

Marlene is a California real estate broker who has been selling property since 1989. California Real Estate License number 01056418.

Backyard gardens are the feature many buyers seek.
Backyard gardens are the feature many buyers seek. | Source

I never thought I would see the day when a residential real estate transaction included negotiation of the chicken coop. That’s right, according to Realtor Magazine, in addition to negotiating the terms of a purchase agreement; in a recent sale, the buyer negotiated the inclusion of four hens and their coop.

It used to be that having a green manicured lawn was an attractive home selling feature, but now it seems that having a backyard farm is the new “must- have” feature.

Growing Concerns About Food Quality

Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the foods they put on the table and rather than trusting food manufactures to be conscientious about the manufacturing process, and further trusting the government overseers to monitor and police manufactures, home owners are turning their back yards into miniature urban farms.

As backyard home growers become more successful, they tend to become more inspired to increase their production to the level where they have opportunities to participate in the local farmer’s markets and supply local restaurants, food pantries, and produce markets.

For example, a backyard farmer who started out growing lettuce might become so successful that they now supply a local restaurant with the fresh lettuce the restaurant uses for their salads.

This type of backyard production might be a feature that is highlighted on the sales brochure. Plus, the seller could offer tips on how to keep the backyard farm productive and transfer the buyer’s connection to the local restaurant or produce market.

The Locavore Movement

A locavore is a person who has committed to eating food that is grown within a 100 mile radius of their home. The locavore movement was started in 2005 by a woman by the name of Jessica Prentice. She and a couple of her San Francisco Bay Area buddies challenged residents in the San Francisco area to eat only foods grown or harvested within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco for the entire month of August. I don’t know the specifics of the challenge’s result except that the concept caught on and went beyond the month of August to become a cultural “movement” all over the U.S. Ms. Prentice has a website called The Local Foods Wheel. At this website, you can sign up for a newsletter that will keep you abreast of what is happening in the locavore movement.

Locavores enjoy the idea of eating locally because, not only does it allow people know where their food is harvested, but it also stimulates the local economy, strengthening the financial well-being of the community.

In the interest of eating locally, many homeowners began growing their own food and becoming local suppliers with the excess of their bounty.

Local Governments Showing Acceptance to Residential Agriculture

It used to be difficult to grow your own food or raise livestock on residential property. However, with the growing interest in local consumption, governments are loosening up and in some cases, promoting small-scale residential agriculture. In many communities around the U.S. homeowners can now grow fruits and vegetables on their property, as well as, raise bees, chicken, goats, and other small livestock.

Check with your city municipal ordinances and neighborhood associations to see if the neighborhood where you reside is allowed to grow food-producing shrubs, trees, and livestock. In many cases, it might just be a matter of obtaining a permit prior to growing or raising livestock in your yard. Permits may be granted with size restrictions and culture restrictions that state which type of plant or animal can be raised on the property.

Community Harvests

Backyard gardens have limited space and each growing region is limited to the type of produce that grows well in your location. At the same time, you may be in a position where your garden may be producing more than your family can consume. You can assume other farmers are having the same dilemma. To solve this issue and to provide a variety of produce, backyard farmers are developing communities of like-minded farmers who exchange the food they have produced for the food someone else has produced. Let’s say you have grown an abundance of tomatoes and you would like to exchange some of your tomatoes for some lemons. No problem! You could make a connection with a local farmer who grows lemons. In a mutually beneficial exchange, you give the lemon farmer a bag of tomatoes and the lemon farmer gives you a bag of lemons.

There are a number of communities around the U.S. that support the concept of exchanging harvests. The best way to locate a harvest exchange community in your area is to search on the Internet for <harvest exchange community {your home town}>.

Personal Property Versus Real Property

When it concerns trees, vines, or shrubs, you must know the difference between what is considered personal property and what is considered real property. This difference determines what you get to take with you and what stays with the property after the sale.

Personal property

Personal property is property that is not attached to the land, belonging to you and not intended to stay with the property after the sale. Potted plants are considered personal property.

You have the option to sell personal property to the buyer with a bill of sale.

Real property

Real property is property that is affixed to the land. Trees, vines, and shrubs are attached to the land by the roots, thereby making them real property. Unless negotiated otherwise, you are required to leave real property on the premises when the property sells.

Tell Buyers Your Plans to Harvest the Food

If you plan to harvest the food, be sure to make your intensions known by writing it in the contract, otherwise, the buyer may be shocked when they move in and find all the fruits and vegetables missing from the garden. And, they certainly would not expect you to come back to gather a harvest anytime after the sale.

Can I take the fruits and vegetables when the house sells?

Yes! Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains are not affixed to the land. They grow on the branches and vines of the tree or shrub. In California they are considered personal property. When you sell your house, you are entitled to the current season’s harvest. If the produce from the current season’s harvest becomes mature after the sale of your property, you are allowed to come back to the property to collect the produce from that season. You must leave the plants for the buyer and all subsequent harvests belong to the buyer.

Marketing Your Home

The locavore movement led people to become aware of local farmers and encouraged people to buy locally. The growing interest in safe food production has led many homeowners to growing their own food and raising their own livestock. Homeowners who produce an abundance of produce can sell excessive production at farmer’s markets or local establishments for additional income or exchange produce with other gardeners through harvest exchanges. These features are potential perks for a buyer.

Point the buyer's attention to your backyard farm. Before placing your home on the market, spruce up your little farm to entice buyers to explore and enjoy the benefits of urban farming.

  • Clean out the chicken coop.
  • Clean up animal waste.
  • Bathe your livestock.
  • Remove weeds
  • Trim and prune foliage

Let the bounty of your garden shine indoors as well as outdoors. Harvest some produce from the garden. Arrange the bounty in a decorative basket, and then place the basket of goodies on the kitchen counter or dining room table to showcase your goods for the buyers to see and admire.

Negotiate the Sale

Buyers may find your mini-farm an attractive feature. To make the deal more attractive, you may choose to leave or sell the produce from the harvest. Likewise, you may choose to leave or sell your livestock.

Buyers are now asking agents to find homes located in neighborhoods where they can have a garden and raise small livestock. If you are a homeowner with a backyard garden, then you have a home that caters to people who have taken an interest in making wise food choices by growing their own food, and the growing population of people who support the locavore movement.

Backyard gardening is no longer a novelty. It is a lifestyle.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Marlene Bertrand


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