Green roof for food

Green roof for food2
Cold Winter and early Spring are always less in quantity of produce and more expensive for cultivating vegetables. Urban farming or urban agriculture has reached the rooftop of the high rise building in the city. What does it mean? There is less land in suburban areas for cultivating food. Actually cultivating plants can be done everywhere with the support of experience, science and technology. Urban agriculture can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, beekeeping and vermiculture.

In 2008, the Vancouver Convention Centre installed a 6-acre living roof of indigenous plants and grass on its West building, making it the largest green roof in Canada. Recently, the hydroponic growing system company opened about a 2-acre greenhouse for 10 million leafy greens and herbs annually on top of a soap factory in the Chicago area. That is likely the largest rooftop farm in the world. It is a great idea to support the local communities, grocery stores and restaurants.

The transition of the urban space from concrete rooftop and goes back to the natural ecosystem, then continuing the daily harvest of vegetables year-round will feed thousands of local people through urban agriculture. The trend of using space, time and energy as efficiently as possible in green roof farming is challenging and prosperous in this unpredictable climate change era caused by global warming.

The benefits of the green roof basically can be described in three directions i.e. for public (e.g. waste diversion, stormwater management), private (e.g. aesthetic improvement, energy efficiency), and design-specific benefits (e.g. for growing food, increasing biodiversity). Recently, green roof waste diversion and energy efficiency for growing food is getting more popular in modern urban agriculture.

The photos above are from one of the largest green roofs in Vancouver and the largest rooftop farm greenhouse in Chicago.

One of the keys of success of green roof farming for food is in the resource-waste management. This is a part of the waste diversion using recycled organic materials for the growing medium with less chemicals and pesticides to support the sustainability of the natural way of farming. The high quality of compost and the nutrients in the growing medium for plants are vital for the healthy plants. The composting-vermicomposting might be done nearby the farm to save the time, energy and cost of hauling the organic waste produced during the operation of the greenhouse.

In the case of increasing the use of organic fertilizer, the extraction of the high quality of good compost or vermicompost to find the essence of the components inside is needed. The essence of the vermicompost i.e. available nutrients, beneficial soil microbes, plant growth regulators, humic and fulvic acids can be brewed as vermicompost tea in soluble water. This is important to avoid the plant pathogens, to support the cleanness and food safety, will reduce the cost of the greenhouse and vegetable farm operations.

I have over 2 years experience doing trials on the tea plantation and the best quality of tea came from the plantation at about 1500m above sea level. The tea plantation in Java never got the organic fertilizers (e.g. compost) due to the heavy hauling of the compost to the location. Mostly the tea plantation got artificial or chemical fertilizers that made the soil harder and less in water holding capacity. The application of only 5-10% of vermicompost to the tea plants showed promise because after the application of vermicompost the plants produced healthier, brighter green leaves and tended to increase the production of new tea leaves.

Feeding the soil and the growing medium for plants (hydroponic) with high quality and less in quantity of vermicompost is always a good investment for the near future healthy food of our new generation.

Please contact us at if you are interested in the application of vermicompost, vermicompost tea, and vermicomposting technology to support green roof vegetables and exotic plants.

– Bintoro Gunadi

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