The Anti-Sprawl Garden


This excellent column by Anna Quindlen, titled "Put ‘Em in a Tree Museum," ponders the fallout from overdevelopment.  For example, the bald eagle may be back but how long can it last, with its habitat fast disappearing?  And when will this very local issue start to reach momentum, like the dangers of smoking finally did after thAugust3webe findings of the ’70s?  What does it take?August2web_1

Well, a pretty radical shift in land use, if you ask me.  As much as I love my 1/3 acre in the burbs, if we all take up that much land pretty soon there’s no more open spaces.  (300 million and counting.)

Which reminds me to show you Takoma Village, the first urban co-housing development in the U.S., in the nearby Takoma section of D.C.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, they’re communes for grown-ups.  First popularized in Denmark (where else?), the movement is spreading even here in me-me-me America.  This one features such shared facilities as a large dining area and kitchen, playroom, workshop, gym, library and gardens.  And it’s 2 blocks from a sSpentrance2webubway stop, so residents can ditch their cars.  To learn more, check their website.

Now I’ve followed Takoma Village from early planning to now-thriving not because I’m an anti-sprawl activist but because my friends are part of its community.  And my personal reaction has always been "Great, love it, just not for ME," which makes me feel downright anti-social.  Too many meetings!   But I’ve gotta think this is part of the big answer to thAugust1webe mushrooming problem of overdevelopment. 

So how about their lovely central garden?  The resident gardener is a buddy of mine and he’s even incorporated some of my passalong plants, so I admit I’m biased.  But notice that in a community like this, even nongardeners get to live among lush personal gardens – and yard space isn’t wasted on them, either.

Click to enlarge the photos.


  1. You may be antisocial, but I’m selfish. My first thought was: “You mean if I wanted to garden at the place where I lived, I would have to SHARE the central garden with someone else? Someone who isn’t even warming up my cold toes at night in return? Eek!”

  2. Thanks for linking Anna Quindlen’s article on sprawl issues to cohousing as a potential solution.

    I’ve visited Takoma Village Cohousing several times, and really enjoyed it. I lived in an even-more-urban cohousing community, Swan’s Market Cohousing in Oakland, CA. Now I’m living in Berkeley Cohousing, where people get first dibs on the garden space around their house but if they don’t want to landscape then others will pick up the slack. This week I’m visiting Songaia in Bothell, WA (near Seattle) for a national Coho/US board meeting — here they have a nice balance of privacy and community, with bulk purchasing of food items helping keep costs down.

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