Troy Drive Community Gardens & Cohousing Madison, Wisconsin
When a parcel of State-owned land on Madison's northeast side, in use for over a decade as community gardens, was declared for sale, neighbors and gardeners organized. They invited two land trusts -- the Urban Open Space Foundation and the Madison Area Community Land Trust (MACLT) -- Design Coalition and a cohousing group to help them work out a way to save the land.
This unique coalition of community groups and non-profit organizations worked for over 4 years to purchase the 35+ acres parcel for continued use as community gardens, with generous open space and restored prairie and trails. (See photo above.) In time the University of Wisconsin also became involved to help form a CSA (community-supported agriculture) and agricultural education programs.
Above: Site Plan
Gardens vs. Housing ... or Both?
It became clear early in the planning process that some housing development on the site was likely the only way to finance the preservation of the rest of the land. However, many neighbors resisted that idea. A key factor in their eventual acceptance was the promise of cohousing because our design featured closely clustered buildings nearby the existing houses that minimized the use of land and paving, and because of the personal involvement of the cohousers in the planning process. The resulting plan included about 25 to 30 units of affordable clustered housing on about 5 acres.
Some years later, MACLT persevered and successfully built an affordable housing project. The residents are active gardeners, and look forward to the day when they will be able to build a common house such as other cohousing clusters enjoy.
Above: A documentary video "Ours to Decide" was made to tell some of the stories of the Troy Gardens process by Shebang Media.