Frequently Asked Questions

Here we discuss common questions that arise concerning Hedgerow Design and Hedgerow Associations.

How are Hedgerow Associations a “tool” for making beautiful landscape?

A Hedgerow Association creates beautiful “Hedgerow Landscape” by managing its land and buildings according to the Landscape Code.

The key is to combine the farming and non-farming elements in one entity.

But this seems too easy.  Surely, there must be some catch?

Actually, it is quite easy to make beautiful landscape.  You simply take attractive houses, you embed them in pretty countryride, and you combine them in a traditional people-friendly layout.  For example, instead of having houses in a grid, you could have houses around a viillage square with a café, a local shop, and a covered market.

It seems lots of people are trying the same thing.  What’s different about Hedgerow Associations and Hedgerow Design? 

Hedgerow Design provides a defined result – Hedgerow Landscape – and a tool to get this result – Hedgerow Associations.

What defines “beautiful landscape”, since everyone has different tastes?

That’s a good question.   Here are three quick answers:

First, everyone does indeed have different tastes.  For our tastes, we define beautiful landscape as “conforming to the Landscape Code” – that is, a mixture of attractive houses, well-tended land, and a welcoming, people-friendly layout.

Second, a good test of a “beautiful landscape” is “Would someone travel specially to visit the place?”

Third, does the landscape look better with the Hedgerow Association than before the Hedgerow Association?

Won’t building a Hedgerow Association spoil the traditional countryside around it?

The pretty traditional countryside is already a “development” – just one that happened a long time ago and evolved over many years.   A new Hedgerow Association could be and should be just as genuinely attractive as the existing surroundings.

What legal form will a Hedgerow Association take?

Hedgerow Associations can be implemented in many different ways — as second-home developments, as suburbs, as exclusive private resorts or clubs, as high-tech or light-manufacturing industrial estates, as holiday communities, as eco-villages, and so forth.  In each case the basic land management concept remains the same.  The final product, however, will vary according to the developers’ and/or the owners’ preferences.

So is the Hedgerow Association another means of land ownership, like, for example, the condominium or the cooperative?

Hedgerow Association is not a means of ownership, but rather, a method of combining land and houses.  Thus an Hedgerow Association can be implemented in many different ways — as condominiums, cooperatives, hotels, corporations, and so forth.

What size can a Hedgerow Association be?

A Hedgerow Association can be any size.

However, larger Associations could be composed of many smaller Associations.  Studies show that groups of about thirty households strike the optimal balance between excessive intimacy on the one hand, and alienation and fear of strangers on the other hand.

Who can set up a Hedgerow Association?

Anyone who feels like it.   Individuals.  Developers.  Corporations.  Governments.  Institutions.

How can one set up a Hedgerow Association

Since an Association can be any structure, purpose, price point and legal structure, there are an infinite number of ways to set up an Association.

This website, however, will be expanded with tip, tools and other resources.

How would an individual set up a Hedgerow Association?

Enterprising private individuals can set up small Hedgerow Associations — involving little or no construction — themselves.

For example, a person could buy six adjoining farms, together with land and outbuildings.  He finds four friends who want to live in Hedgerow Landscape, and they agree to form a Hedgerow Association.  They sell the sixth house to a farmer.  Thus they each have a sixth share.  The farmer agrees to abide by the Hedgerow Association rules, and the five non-farmers are now the proud owners of houses set amidst lovely countryside that will only improve with time.

In another case, a group of neighbours, including a farmer, with adjoining land, could join together and form a Hedgerow Association.  This would be easy, and would hopefully become a popular thing to do — a simple way for a group of neighbours to protect and enhance their quality of life.

Another possibility is for a group to partner with an existing landowner to form an Association.  The landowner contributes his land, the group pays for the house construction, and they set up a Hedgerow Association.

What are the general methods of creating Hedgerow Associations?

Since an Association can be any structure, purpose, price point and legal structure, there are an infinite number of ways to set up an Association.

In general, there are some basic formulas:

  • Buy or lease the land.
  • Bring together existing landowners.
  • Partner with a landowner
  • Any combination of the above.

This website will be expanded with tip, tools and other resources.

Won’t all Hedgerow Associations end up looking pretty much the same?

Actually, they will look very different.  The differences between Hedgerow Associations may be divided into the following groups:

  • Architecture, street layout, and planning, as in any housing development.  This can be very varied depending on the nature of the Association, which could be a suburban development, a school, a factory, a street in a city, an entire town or village, a golf resort, and so on.
  • The pattern of the hedgerow landscape elements — how the fields, hedges, roads and lanes, woods, crops, ponds are laid out.  Since this pattern depends on the particular landscape and property boundaries, it is always unique.
  • The proportions of the hedgerow landscape elements — some Hedgerow Associations might include large tracts of forest, with a small farmed area around the community.  Others might be almost entirely farmed.  Others might be urban with no farmland and only small gardens.
  • The composition of the landscape elements.  These will always be local hardy species and so will vary widely from one area to another.

Hopefully, the only commonality is that they would be thoroughly agreeable places to live, work and visit.

Why insist on recreating old-fashioned farmland?  Wouldn’t you have much more wildlife by simply creating housing with, say, one or five acre zoning, and leaving most of the land as woods? 

It might seem, indeed, that there would be more wildlife in pure woodland than in Hedgerow Landscape.  Oddly enough, however, the Landscape Code promotes an enormous diversity and abundance of wildlife, more diverse, by far, than leaving land as woodland.

In nature, most wildlife — whether birds, insects, plants, or animals — is found in what are known as “edge zones”.  A hedgerow is a classic example of an edge zone.  Different wildlife lives on the hot, sunny southern side than on the cool, shady northern side.  Hedge wildlife establishes complex relationships with the wildlife of the adjacent meadows or ponds or woodlands.

Now, the Hedgerow Landscape has very many “edge zones”.    Hedges, meadows, ponds, woods, creeks, cropfields, orchards, vegetable gardens: all combine in an intricate tapestry of tiny ecological niches.   The net effect is a higher species diversity by far than plain forest.

And, of course, Hedgerow Associations offer many other benefits beyond wildlife diversity – such as attractive houses, local farm produce, a village square, etc.

Does Hedgerow land require organic certification?

No.  By following the Landscape Code, we ensure healthy, beautiful, chemical-free land.  The organic certification is therefore not relevant.   Also, getting organic certification costs time, effort and money.

This whole idea sounds too idealistic.  People are more concerned with their own immediate personal needs and interests than with saving the world.   

Buying a house in a Hedgerow Association is just like buying a house in any property development — you have byelaws, monthly dues, and neighbours.   There is no ideological component or commitment.  Of course, only those people who enjoy the various benefits of Hedgerow Associations will buy.

Would the purchase of a home in a Hedgerow Association be a good investment?

In general, it would seem reasonable to expect that as population and housing development increases, and as countryside decreases, there will be an increasing demand for Hedgerow Associations, which offer picturesque landscapes, wholesome environments, and peaceful living.

This increasing demand could well translate into higher prices.

What would happen if one Hedgerow Association member broke the Landscape Code?

That would entirely depend on the structure and byelaws of the Association, just as with any other property.

Wouldn’t it become very complicated to regulate Hedgerow Association conduct?

No more so than in any housing association or condominium development.

How to stop communities, villages or real estate developments who skimp, and advertise themselves as “Hedgerow Associations” when in fact they are not. 

When this happens, it is a sign of success.   However, we will be introducing a simple, user-driven “rating” system for Hedgerow Associations.

How can you possibly create beautiful landscapes? The old-fashioned landscapes of yesterday were complex creations, requiring centuries of painstaking evolution. 

Actually, there is no mystery to creating a lovely landscape.  The secret is to take a few simple and attractive elements and to repeat them in infinitely varying combinations, according to local needs and conditions.  This produces an effect of tremendous complexity and richness.

Even if these beautiful landscapes are technically possible, won’t they be very expensive and difficult to make or recreate?

On the contrary, hedgerow landscapes are cheap to make, and require low-maintenance.  After all, you need less asphalt, less concrete, less steel, less heavy machinery, less expensive chemicals, less fences.  Indeed, many of your ingredients are free.

Demand for organic food is increasing far faster than the supply.   This will, by the law of supply and demand, create a surge in organic farming.  So why bother with Hedgerow Associations and all that?

Hedgerow Associations address many problems that are not solved by organic farming alone — such as pretty landscapes, creation of small-scale farming jobs, revitalization of rural economies through the creation of tourism-worthy landscapes, creation of environmentally and culturally healthy housing developments, and so forth.

Also, to be competitive, organic farmers are often large-scale operations.  This means that the land is unattractive and lacking bio-diversity.  Indeed, it may be largely indistinguishable from “normal” high-chemical industrial agricultural land.

How will Hedgerow Association farmers support themselves?

This will depend on how the Association is structured.  In general, however, farmers’ incomes come from selling their produce, together with service fees from the Hedgerow Association.  These alone will enable them to make a living.  In addition, they might earn additional income running bed-and-breakfasts, or house-tending for absent Hedgerow Association members, or gardening.  Further possibilities are limited only by the individual’s imagination: vacations-on-the-farm, retreats, courses and so on.

Do farmers own or rent from the Hedgerow Association?

Anything is possible.  Depending on how the Association is structured, the farmer could own or rent.  Here are three examples:

1.  The farmer rents from the Association and performs the farming services in lieu of rent.

2.  The farmer is one homeowner among the other homeowners.

3.  The farmer owns all the land, develops a Hedgerow Association on it, and everyone else rents from him.

What qualifications are needed to be a non-farmer in a Hedgerow Association?

There are no qualifications needed, just as in any other housing development.

Suppose we wanted a large Hedgerow Association.  How would shops and business and public buildings fit in with the overall scheme?

That depends on the particular organizer of the Hedgerow Association.  Structurally, there are no limits.

Why should Hedgerow Association residents pay more? They must subsidize the Hedgerow Association farmers with a monthly fee, and, in some cases, even pay for the farmers’ houses and land. 

In general, residents will pay less, since land maintenance costs are shared by many people.  Indeed, the grounds-maintenance fee in a Hedgerow Association is roughly the same, both in cost and purpose, as the grounds-maintenance fee in a conventional real-estate development such as a condominium.

The details of ownership of land and houses will, of course, depends on the particular Hedgerow Association.

Furthermore, residents gets a lot for their money:  a guaranteed view, a lovely place to live, access to fresh farm produce, and all the other advantages of the Hedgerow Assocation.

How can you claim that there is little or no unspoiled countryside left? What about all the beautiful countryside in Europe? The chequerboard fields of England? The picturesque landscapes of France? The sunny vistas of Italy?

It is true that from a distance, there are many regions which look picturesque.  Upon closer examination, unfortunately, we often find these landscapes to be under significant pressure from development and large scale industrial farming.  That is, all the elements that characterize Hedgerow Landscapes, such as hedges, trees, small fields, and so forth, are slowly being replaced by large sterile fields interspersed with ugly new developments.

Why not simply buy a house in an unspoiled pocket of old-fashioned countryside? Why bother with all this “Hedgerow” stuff?

When you buy your house or farm, your land, then usually either the land falls out of cultivation, or you rent it to a neighbouring farmer.

If the land is allowed to fall out of cultivation, it reverts to untended scrub, which is neither pleasant to the eye nor productive to the community.

If you rent the land to a neighbouring farmer, this farmer will now have to farm a much greater area that formerly.  Thus he will lavish correspondingly less care and more chemicals on the land, and the land becomes sterile, polluted, and unpleasing to the eye.

A further problem is that neighbouring farmers, already hard-pressed for cash, and struggling to survive, see selling their farms as an easy alternative to farming.  Therefore, the single house purchase by an outsider soon results in a significant percentage of the local farms being sold off to non-farmers.

As the surrounding farmers sell off their land, developers often move in and build villas and holiday houses.  Thus the “old-fashioned countryside” disappears, replaced with the global standard modern suburban-style landscape.

Forming a Hedgerow Association in such a region, on the other hand, would both preserve and enhance the landscape, the view, and the ecology – as well as create one or more healthy farming jobs.

If there is such a large demand for pastoral beauty, why won’t tourism and other market forces naturally arise and fulfill this demand?

Yes, you are right.  Market forces will arise – and Hedgerow Design is a product of these market forces.