Rooftop Farming is Getting Off the Ground
From vacant lots to vertical “pinkhouses,” urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.
While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That’s why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.
The green-roof movement has slowly been gaining momentum in recent years, and some cities have made them central to their sustainability plans. The city of Chicago, for instance, boaststhat 359 roofs are now partially or fully covered with vegetation, which provides all kinds of environmental benefits — from reducing the buildings’ energy costs to cleaning the air to mitigating the urban heat island effect.
Late this summer, Chicago turned a green roof into its first major rooftop farm. At 20,000 square feet, it’s the largest soil-based rooftop farm in the Midwest, according to the Chicago Botanic Garden, which maintains the farm through its Windy City Harvest program.