the yard therapist has been following the technology and cultural trends toward green roofs and roof top greenhouses for a number of years, educating myself idly until the technology grew from its infancy to a fully fledged, mainstream industry. It’s time has come. If you don’t know much about urban farming, you need to get in the ballgame and educate yourself as to why this is the future of food production. It is a revolution that is gaining momentum in large metropolitan areas such as Montreal and NYC. It is only a matter of time before you buy your vegetables from a local roof top grower, and this is a good thing. Roof top greenhouses use very little fossil fuel, capturing waste heat from the host building and using solar power to cool the facility as needed. The soiless hydroponic method uses 10 times less water than a conventional field crop, captures rainfall, preventing run-off that causes storm sewer flooding. There is no fertilizer run-off to pollute our ecosystems. The food you buy will have higher nutritional content and taste better as chances are it was grown locally, in your neighborhood. Currently the produce you buy in the supermarket is about halfway through its shelf life by the time you purchase it and along the way left a carbon footprint equal to bigfoot’s. The urban greenhouse produces year round and is not affected by weather or seasonality. Employment opportunities for locals increase, creating a more prosperous economy while stimulating community involvement. The farm stand is back, this time on the sidewalk of a major urban community! Imagine a Saturday stroll, a Starbucks and your produce on the same block, freshly picked on the roof top and brought downstairs to the stand by the doorway.
At this time, NYC is leading the way with at least 6 large greenhouses, mostly situated in Brooklyn where there are ample flat-roofed warehouses serving as able hosts. Gotham Greens currently produces 100 tons of vegetables year round which they sell locally. The city is proposing a package of zoning changes called Zone Green to help facilitate the growth of the industry. We all need to take heed and begin similar initiatives within our own cities of residence.
To introduce you to the concept of urban farming I would like to pass on this video http://on.ted.com/Ritz. Ritz, and his students built the first indoor edible wall in their classroom, an enterprise that now feeds the 450 students in their school cafeteria with no carbon footprint. They are the youngest nationally certified workforce in America. Their work encompasses an area from the south Bronx to the Hamptons. The class attendance went from 40% to 90% with this initiative. This momentum is gathering no moss, but is generating plenty of green of the edible and spending variety. Mr. Ritz makes a compelling call to action, I myself wanted to plant a wall of lettuce in my living room after viewing! You will be truly inspired, please watch.
For more information about roof top greenhouses and urban gardening check out these companies and see what it’s all about. In Canada, Lufa Farms and VertiCrop. In NYC and other locations check out Bright Farm.