Preserving the Environment

The Latest Place to Grow Greens

September 22, 2014
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The Latest Place to Grow Greens
A commercial grade farm can be created within a city or on a rooftop without the need for many acres in the countryside. Gotham Greens
You can now find fields in unusual places.

While urban farms are gaining popularity in cities across the country, some metropolitans are taking them to new heights. Literally.

Instead of planting gardens on the ground, some groups are utilizing rooftops to grow food to feed customers, students and the homeless.

One such urban rooftop farm is located at Roberta’s Pizza in New York City. Located in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, the restaurant has two small rooftop greenhouse facilities that produce 20 percent of the ingredients the restaurant uses throughout its multiple locations. And on the west coast, you’ll find Project Open Hand in San Francisco. This nonprofit uses its rooftop greenhouse to produce healthy meals for the sick and elderly. All of the herbs and greens are grown in the city headquarters, prepared by the chefs and then distributed across the city.

Schools are also a popular destination for rooftop farms. At George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., a greenhouse sits atop the school’s Exploratory Hall. As part of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, the university’s greenhouse has three rooms — each paralleling a different climate. It has also partnered with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the university’s Potomac Heights’ vegetable garden, which feeds the homeless.

Chicago features a few different schools taking a unique approach to rooftop farming. The University of Chicago’s greenhouse sits atop the Donnelley Biological Science Learning Center.  Boasting 7,500 square feet of growing space, a portion of it is also used for drug research.

There’s also a local high school getting involved in the sky-high action. The Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School in Chicago has a hydroponic greenhouse on its roof. Since the school bases its curriculum on social transformation, it views social ecology and urban agriculture as vital components. So, the school uses its greenhouse to grow food for the students, as well as it serving as an educational tool.

And so far it’s working. For one student Jaleen Starling, the opportunity to work in the garden was life changing or at least lifestyle changing.

“When we get taught something, it’s never just for us to learn,” she tells New Communities. “It’s something for us to connect to. … Until I came to this school, I didn’t pay attention to food.”

So while these farms may be high up, they’re starting a movement on the ground.

To find more urban rooftop farms growing across the country, click here.

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