Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line: Homestead-Washing?

What Domino's Pizza did for "artisan," Williams-Sonoma has now done for the "urban homesteader" concept. Yesterday, the bobo culinary bible officially launched Agrarian, a line that "supports a lifestyle of healthy living" by "connecting the virtues of the homegrown and homemade to your everyday table." That means, in other words, that you can buy things like chicken coops, backyard beehives, copper garden trowels "designed for the female hand," DIY cheese and kombucha kits, heirloom seeds from Beekman 1802, and "naturally distressed" vintage German biergarten tables.

Williams-Sonoma has outfitted its scrupulously curated urban homesteading tools with price tags that say "urban" way more than they do "homesteader." A "found" seed crate "from coastal New England"—you know, the ones that typically reside on the dirt floors of nurseries and barns—can be yours for $39.95, presumably because it's "vintage" instead of "old." It is, however, a steal compared to the $69.95 "vintage" painted watering can, not to mention that biergarten table, which, as a "genuine artifact," commands $599.95.

Plants and seeds are typically the most accessible gateway drug for the aspiring gardener / homesteader / member of the landed gentry. Not so here: A wee pot of organic Italian basil is $12.95, while a single tender spray of lettuce is $16.95.

To be sure, Agrarian is not geared towards actual homesteaders, the ones who patronize seed libraries and garden supply centers and homesteader sites like FARMCurious (which should probably complain about intellectual property theft) and don't typically require $110 burlap totes to do their farmers' market shopping. Instead, it appears to exist solely to promote the concept of theme-park urban homesteading, the kind that is typically accompanied by bucolic visions of baby-blue Araucana eggs and hunter-green Wellingtons untouched by cow shit.

But give Williams-Sonoma credit: Like Smith & Hawken before it, the company fully understands that the fantasy of a simpler, homegrown life is far more delectable than the reality of trying to achieve it. Or, as any person under the age of 12 can tell you, playing dress-up is fun. Especially when it comes with shiny copper trowels and slimming raw-denim utility aprons.

Image source: Williams-Sonoma.com

Rebecca Flint Marx eats and writes in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.