Joe Johnston is a Stanford educated engineer who grew up on the Johnston family farm in Gilbert, Arizona. The Johnston family desired to be good stewards of the land as development approached their area. In 1998, Joe dived into the visioning and design of Agritopia®, the development of the Johnston family farm in to a nationally known “agrihood”. The community of Agritopia® combines sustainable urban agriculture with village life, in which connectivity and breaking down social barriers are primary goals. While most of Agritopia® has been built out, he continues to work on some of the key elements that are yet to be built.
Joe is also a serial entrepreneur in opening The Coffee Plantation (1989) chain of coffeehouses, Joe’s Real BBQ (1998) an adaptive reuse of a 1929 grocery store, Joe’s Farm Grill in his family home (2006) and Liberty Market in another downtown Gilbert grocery store (2008). His current projects include the recently open Barnone (2016), a collection of passionate craftsman that believe small is beautiful, and his new Johnston Machine Co. This startup focuses on culinary machining and development of intellectual property in culinary technology.
Here, we will discuss how the next frontier in urban planning brings working farms to our agrihoods, and compare and contrast new ideas for integrating agriculture into modern American communities.