One of those interesting trends that may be the hot topic of 2009 (and a major topic of conversation in 2008) is the growing of food in cities – particularly on rooftops and buildings. A couple of recent articles present some viable examples of rooftop agriculture used for education and production. The San Francisco Chronicle offers a great story of Graze the Roof – a project atop the roof of the Glide Memorial Church.
:: images via SF Gate
The project is a collaboration between Glide and the Oakland non-profit Bay Localize: “… which promotes edible rooftops and urban self-reliance. Such gardens are seen as an important, and largely untapped, opportunity to increase local food production. In addition to providing veggies for participants, the garden demonstrates to apartment dwellers that having a flat roof is all you need to grow good food.” The article continues with some basics on green roofs and rooftop gardening, as well as some varieties of planters, spanning from raised beds, to 6″ deep planters to hydroponics. Give it a read for more info.
A second project via a City Farmer link to the Chicago Sun-Times involves a 2,500 square foot production farm in Chicago atop the rooftop of the Uncommon Ground restaurant. The interesting addition – it may be the first certified organic rooftop garden. “The uncommon farm is built on recycled deck material 20 feet atop the street. The farm currently has arugula, beans, beets, collard greens, cucumbers, peas, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes and watermelon.”
:: images via City Farmer
Taking a cue from Chicago’s City Hall, the roof has beehives, in addition to the garden beds: “The rooftop farm also has a pair of beehives that produce 40 to 50 pounds of honey for the restaurant. Cameron met her beekeeper Liam Ford at the Hideout block party; after all that’s how Chicago works. … Farm equipment includes 28 cedar planter boxes, designed by Cameron and the Organic Gardener in Evanston. The planter boxes were built by the restaurant’s construction team. They have digitally programmed irrigation systems for water efficiency. Another 12 earth boxes were delivered from the Growing Connection, a group affiliated with the United Nations. The enclosed organic boxes are used as an educational tool and growing system for places worldwide. Cameron is working to have the space certified as an organic farm through the Midwest Organic Services Association. “
More info via a press release from Uncommon Ground here, as well as a detailed fact sheet – making sure that wide-spread adoption for other projects is met as a goal. Also, check out the link for a couple of high-resolution panoramic images from the garden as well. These two projects remind me of one of the first examples of this kind, Portland’s Rocket Restaurant – which unfortunately, according to the word on the street, is closing its doors… It’ll be interesting to see what the fate of this project, and seeing how other projects adopt this in the face of rising fuel and food costs… even in these difficult economic times.