Trend: Farm Livin’

Several of our 2022 wellness trends explore how big farms and farm-focused experiences becoming much more central at wellness resorts and in wellness real estate–and how the home gardening and foraging trends just continue to bloom and evolve

Next Friday, April 22, is Earth Day—so we thought we’d spotlight how the getting-people-back-to-the-earth trends of farming and gardening are a key focus of not one, but several, of our top wellness trends for 2022. The pandemic has made self-sufficiency and survivalism much bigger values. And the quickening environmental and soil crisis is sparking a new awareness that we must restore the world’s soil (through more regenerative farming practices), while the medical evidence mounts that exposure to soil brings so many eye-opening health benefits.  

These forces are making a new kind of ‘farm livin’ a major wellness trend and one taking different directions: 

The in-depth “Dirty Wellness” trend explores how in wellness real estate, agrihoods–and especially regen-agrihoods, where the community revolves around a large regenerative farm–are a powerful trend, as more people now seek to live in communities that deliver a purposeful, self-reliant, planet-changing life of restoring the soil, farming, healthy food, and connection to nature. (What a welcome “development” given that wellness real estate has been associated with elitist, gated luxury developments dripping with wellness amenities.) 

At wellness resorts, the farm—and increasingly the regenerative farm—is becoming as important as the spa or fitness amenities. The resort farm experience is no longer some “nice tour”: People are getting dirty farming and foraging, going deep with resident farmers for some nitty-gritty ag-education, with whole menus of cool farm experiences on offer. At more wellness resorts, the programming is soil-to-guest now, not just farm-to-table. And more resorts are re-wilding impressive amounts of land far beyond the resort walls.  

The at-home gardening trend and foraging mania that exploded during the pandemic is here to stay. And now more people are becoming serious ag-geeks digging deep into the science on how to more sustainably farm. Regular folks are turning to farm industry media platforms like Farmerama Radio and their CEREAL podcast—the “voice of regenerative farming.” It’s why Rodale Institute recently launched online courses on regen-farming techniques for consumers. And the smart home-garden-tech that brings indoor farming even to people living in studio apartments continues to sprout.  

Farming Is Medicine: As we celebrate Earth Month, we should consider the growing research on the powerful, ancient link between the soil and human microbiomes (they evolved in lockstep for millions of years), which makes farming and gardening evidence-based medicine. Salon’s excellent, recent overview of the science behind the soil-gut microbiome connection explains how our health is impacted by the soil microbes we ingest. They cite Emeran Mayer, MD, from UCLA’s School of Medicine: "It's an absolutely amazing story, how the same molecules are used for the health of a plant in soil and our own gut; it must be a very ancient system that's been preserved.”  

This is likely why soil exposure has a positive impact on everything from immune health to mood. Most of us have heard of the “farm effect,” the research, such as that from the University of Helsinki, about how children growing up in farming areas suffer far less allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory/immune disorders. Other studies show that the soil-dwelling bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae boosts serotonin production and lowers stress in both people and mice (with researchers now studying how to develop a “stress vaccine” from it).

Read More

A new farm-living mindset is having an impact on many wellness sectors, and its new directions are analyzed in three of the ten key trends in the 110-page Future of Wellness 2022 report: Dirt-y Wellness, Wellness Travel: Seekers Welcome and Next-Gen Naturalism. Order the report, packed with insight on what’s next in wellness and the companies charting that future, here

The Trend in the News

Southhall, the Farm-Focused Resort Set on Idyllic Working Farm in Historic Franklin, Tennessee Opens This SummerHospitality Net, April 1, 2022

Southhall is a shining example of the new farm-centered wellness resorts and the soon-to-open, 325-acre property will offer a unique menu of farm, wellness and adventure programming that will give guests acres of land for foraging and very immersive, hands-on farming education and experiences.

How the Pandemic Changed Food Self-Sufficiency at Asian Hotels and ResortsTravel Daily News Asia, March 8, 2022

As guests dwindled during the pandemic, many Asian hotels invested in the land, cultivating gardens, farms and orchards to support staff and move towards a more sustainable operating model–such as Alba Wellness Valley and Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort in Vietnam. The resorts report that their initially humble farms are expanding fast and farm-immersion experiences will now become key programming for guests. 

Silicon Valley's New Sustainable Housing Complex Comes with Its Own FarmInteresting Engineering, December 8, 2021

Agrihood in Silicon Valley is a prime example of the new…agrihoods. What makes this $200 million project (that can produce 20,000 pounds of produce a year) unique is that it’s an urban agrihood and is designed for low-income and senior residents. This article gives the details on the welcome new project which will open in 2023.  

The Rise of At-Home Hydroponic GardensModern Farmer, September 11, 2021

One of so many articles about how intelligent indoor gardening systems are growing globally, with companies such as Gardyn, Lettuce Grow and Click and Grow letting people grow greens, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms and fruits right in their living room or kitchen year-round.

The Next Level in Sustainability: Nature RestorationThe New York Times, March 15, 2022

This article covers an important trend in real estate generally: developers are no longer simply preserving nature, but are actively restoring natural habitats. Prominent examples include Expedia’s $900 million Seattle headquarters which extensively restored the habitat and soil of a former industrial waterfront site with a coastal meadow teeming with native plants–and River Ring, new waterfront Brooklyn high-rises for low- and middle-income residents designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, with restored tidal pools and salt marshes providing a landscape for herons and egrets to forage (and a private beach!).   

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