In heavily populated urban areas, growing space is where you can find it. In areas where space is taken up by residences and businesses, individuals and families have to find unique ways to produce fresh produce, whether it’s in pots on their balconies or in their apartments.
Where you once saw gardens growing in vacant lots next to buildings, you can now find soilless farming on rooftops, as more and more individuals take to the skies to grow their vegetables. To take it one step further is to incorporate the use of hydroponic systems, with no need for soil!
Alternatives is an international organization based out of Montreal, Canada, and has promoted the use and conversion of unused spaces such as rooftops, terraces, and balconies into usable green spaces. In particular, Alternatives promotes the use of rooftops as gardens, especially in urban environments.
By utilizing these unused spaces, we can produce foods that are affordable, ecological, participative, and easily transferable. These urban production systems are a unique way to deal with food insecurity, especially in urban environments where you typically would not have access to fresh produce.Rooftop gardens in Manhattan, New York. Image via PisaPhotography.
Alternatives describes the goals met when utilizing these rooftop growing systems, which include:Producing their own organic fruits and vegetablesBeautifying the landscapeEncouraging the practice of productive physical activityMitigating heat island effects around the cityPutting organic waste to good useIncreasing biodiversityImproving air quality
An example of soilless farming in the sky, a commercial practice can be found in New York City in the West Village. A local restaurant, Bell, Book & Candle, uses their restaurant’s rooftop as a growing space where they produce a large portion of their fruits, vegetables, and herbs – and all without the use of soil.
Bell Book and Candle’s Chef, John Mooney, produces two-thirds of the vegetables that the restaurant requires to serve their customers. Mooney utilizes vertical towers that relies on hydroponic systems which provide the plants with food and nutrients.
Featured Image: An array of rooftop garden beds located in a dense urban area. Image via PHG.AlternativesBell Book and CandleCommercial HydroponicsHydroponic SystemsRooftop GardensSoilless FarmingVertical GrowingHeather Sowalla My name I Heather Sowalla. I have a passion for the environment starting from the time I was a young girl. I fell in love with hiking and fishing, even playing with bugs! As I grew older my passions began to develop into something that I could mold my education around. Starting with my undergrad degree I focused on fish and wildlife management which took me from central Pennsylvania the entire way to Alaska for an internship with the Student Conservation Association. After that I decided, due to health reasons, that I needed a change of pace and so I moved in a direction of sustainability, in particular agriculture and food security and now as I work through my internship – I plan on graduating in the Spring of 2015 with my Masters. What will I do after that? Well … I’m not really sure. Maybe I will be the next great of the Environmental Era? Maybe not … but I will do my best to try!