Durham community blends farming with suburban lifestyle

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Home construction and pre-sales begin in two weeks at a new agricultural neighborhood which blends suburbs and rural farmland.

Wetrock Farm’s developers plan to have 141 houses at a 230-acre site about 20 minutes north of downtown Durham. Pegasus Land Co. will build the first dozen homes in the subdivision’s initial phase.

“It hasn’t taken that much convincing. People who are already interested in local food and sustainable farming, and kind of having food from their own neighborhood are generally attracted to it, and those are the people who are going to end up buying here,” Wetrock managing partner Rick Bagel said.

“The people who have come in interested in Wetrock Farm want a sense of community, they want to be closer to nature, and they want to have access to food and net-zero features, and that’s been a real sticking point for the people who’ve been seriously interested.”

Bagel said he has received inquiries from more than 1,000 potential residents about living in the agri-hood.

The neighborhood will be home to a 15-acre organic farm, which will have an orchard, a vineyard, and greenhouses. Some of the homeowners association fees will go toward growing goods on the farm, which Bagel said will have a professional farm manager. Residents will receive deliveries of fresh produce every two weeks, similar to a subscription service, except the food will come from their neighborhood.

“There are some inspirations taken from co-housing and that model, but it’s a conventional community with a regular HOA (Homeowner’s Association). The only difference is the food share and the fact that Net Zero homes are in the specs,” Bagel said.

All of the houses will have solar panels on the roofs in order to generate electricity, with an aim that each home produces as much energy as it consumes for a “net zero” energy usage.

Private development consultant William Yadusky believes some homebuyers may be a little hesitant to consider the community because of its unique properties, but he said some of the forward-thinking concepts will be popular and attractive to others.

“It’s really very conventional but it has so many of those next level elements,” Yadusky said.

“There has been an incredible amount of engineering in the community water and wastewater system, making sure that everything is clean and durable.”

Nearly two-thirds of the site’s 230 acres will remain open space. Developers picked and purchased the property in 2014, but Bagel said it took a long time to get permits and approvals. Wetrock Resources, LLC, relied on private equity and private funding to begin construction.

Pre-sales start July 11, and Bagel said he is among the first group of people who plan to move into homes at Wetrock Farm.

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