3 Eagle Street Rooftop Farm
Nice Roots isn’t the only agricultural success at SHARE. Urban apiarist Trey Flemming maintains 32 hives at seven locations throughout the city, 14 of which are on SHARE’s warehouse roof. The urban bees feed on diverse flora found in street plantings, parks, roof gardens and vegetable gardens. Compared with rural agricultural crops, these small-scale polycultures are generally not treated with her-
4 Life Wellness Center
vegetable, herb and flower crops, as well as the honey already produced on-site. Morris Zimmerman, architect and the Design Collaborative’s team leader, explains that the plan also integrates extensive green roof areas and solar panels in locations where the building can’t structurally support a thick soil layer. In order to ensure that the Design Collaborative’s rooftop vision was attainable, Zimmerman consulted with the Philadelphiabased green roof firm Roofmeadow, where I work. As Roofmeadow’s rooftop agriculture specialist, I worked with Zimmerman to develop soil depth, pricing, and phasing strategies for SHARE’s rooftop farm. For now the design is still in the conceptual phase, but the Design Collaborative’s efforts have begun stimulating funding interest. About $1 million is needed to repair the existing roof and waterproofing membrane, with an additional $1 million for the rooftop farm. Two million dollars may seem like a lot, but it’s a small price for the opportunity to embark on a new agricultural venture—one that builds community and supports food equity through the innovative design of underutilized space.
With a healthy crop of community organizers, food justice advocates and young farming professionals, the city has quickly become a national leader in metropolitan food production. bicides or pesticides, which means the pollinators don’t bring chemicals back to the hive. For these bees, SHARE provides an invaluable resource: real estate. Turning plans into action The success of Nice Roots and the rooftop apiary has Wynn and Shick eager to expand their agricultural operations. With the property virtually built to capacity, the only direction to expand is upward. In 2011, Wynn partnered with the Community Design Collaborative, a Philadelphia-based collective of design professionals that volunteer their services to assist nonprofits. The Design Collaborative was tasked with developing a master plan for the site, with rooftop farming as a key element. The Design Collaborative’s master plan proposes several types of agriculture for SHARE’s 3.5-acre roof, including row farming, raised beds and greenhouse hydroponics. These production areas are meant to prioritize high-value
lauren mandel, mla is a project manager and rooftop agriculture specialist at Roofmeadow (formerly Roofscapes, Inc.), the Philadelphia-based green roof firm that consulted with Zimmerman on the SHARE project. Mandel is writing a series of books on rooftop agriculture, called Eat Up, and blogs regularly on the topic at eatupag.wordpress.com .
Compared with the thriving farm SHARE already has on the ground, 1 the current view from their warehouse rooftop is bleak. But there’s hope that 2 plans created by the Community Design Collaborative can help turn the space into a thriving rooftop farm. 3 The Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn, N.Y. is a great example of what the space in Philadelphia can become. The 6,000 square-foot green roof is a thriving organic farm, supplying a neighborhood CSA, onsite farm market and several area restaurants. SHARE’s rooftop is already 4 home to 14 hives as part of Trey Flemming’s Urban Apiaries business. Rooftop hives provide a unique and diverse environment for bees. The hives will be included in the project, which already has support from Philadelphiabased Roofmeadow, which contributed to the design process. Roofmeadow is a green roof firm that has worked on projects both locally and nationally. 5 An example of their work is Life Expression Wellness Center in Sugar Loaf, eastern Pennsylvania, whose roof is covered in a flower carpet.
To find out more about rooftop farming initiatives in Philadelphia, visit philadelphiarooftopfarm.wordpress.com and cloud9rooftopfarm.wordpress.com .
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Toward a Sustainable Philadelphia