Trend to Watch: Rooftop Farming Is on the Rise

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Gwen Schantz, left, co-founder and managing partner of the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm at the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard, shows a volunteer how to harvest greens. Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times courtesy of Flickr/JoeInSouthernCA

Gwen Schantz, left, co-founder and managing partner of the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm at the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard, shows a volunteer how to harvest greens. Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times courtesy of Flickr/JoeInSouthernCA

We’ve had our eye on the burgeoning urban agriculture trend for quite some time. In many urban centers facing vacant land problems, such as Detroit and Philadelphia, residents are reclaiming formerly blighted lots and transforming them into tiny meccas of food production — a move studies show can decrease crime and encourage development.

In cities like New York and Chicago, where land prices come at far higher premiums, farmers are eyeing spaces that can be had for free: formerly empty rooftops.

Chicago is now home to 359 roofs that are partially or fully covered with vegetation — totaling 5.4 million square feet — while New York will soon be home to a massive 100,000-square-foot rooftop farm, the largest in the nation.

To give you the scoop on the growing trend, Earth911 spoke with Leila M. Farah and Mark Gorgolewski from the Carrot City Research Group, an initiative of Ryerson University in Ontario that explores how design can enable urban food production, to get their perspective on where rooftop farming is now and what’s in store for the future. Read on for the details.

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Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.
Mary Mazzoni