Many communities complain about suburban sprawl, but not many really do anything about it. One developer, however, has found a way to contain sprawl and conserve working farms at the same time.

Developer John DeWald & Associates recently broke ground on Serosun Farms, an innovative conservation community situated over 400 acres of countryside.

“The vision of Serosun Farms is to protect and preserve our land from future development and suburban sprawl,” says John DeWald, one of the principals in the firm. The company hopes to blend agricultural preservation and sustainable living in one neighborhood where much of the needed energy will be produced on site and all the homes will be high-performance buildings.

Located about 55 miles outside Chicago in Hampshire, Ill., Serosun Farms is centered around a 160-acre working, sustainable farm with an on-site farmer's market and about 410 acres of open countryside with eight miles of trails, fishing ponds, a playground and a community center with a swimming pool, and an equestrian center. The place is “a horse enthusiasts' dream, with one of the most comprehensive and holistic boarding and training facilities in the Midwest,” the company says. Professional board and care as well as horse fitness and training programs also will be available to the residents.

DeWald says phase one of the development will include 114 houses sited on 1-acre lots for high-performance custom homes ranging in size from small 2,000-square-foot country cottages to 6,000-square-foot estates.

“Estate members of Serosun Farms will enjoy high-performance, custom homes with superior craftsmanship utilizing the latest technology and green building practices, complemented by breathtaking views, that will endure for generations,” the developer says. DeWald adds that the community is building 10 concept homes as examples for builders to use as inspiration.

Developed by three firms, the architecture styles will include craftsman, prairie, barn, and contemporary. Though the firm encourages buyers to use one of the three “town” architects, customers may also use their own designers, but the designers—and the plans for the homes—must be approved by the development.

In addition to green buildings, the community itself will be sustainable. The development will use wind, solar, and geothermal energy to provide 70% to 80% of all energy on site.

“While much of the community's energy will be provided by on-site, renewable sources, such as geothermal, we are not requiring homes to be net zero or lowering home energy requirements by 100%,” the developer says. “Net zero would be great and fully supported, but we are not requiring it.”

Serosun Farms is just one in a growing list of master-planned communities that use farming as an amenity. The Urban Land Institute says there are more than 200 such projects in the works.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.