Rooftop gardens make sense for many reasons

Rooftop gardens make sense for many reasons

Rooftop gardening is a simple idea that could help billions of people worldwide. It’s actually an ancient idea that’s already common in Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. Rooftop gardens are gaining traction in other places as well. The concept involves growing food on top of flat roofed buildings, primarily in urban areas where growing space is limited and the need for fresh food is greatest. France has just signed into law that all new commercial buildings incorporate green roofs.

Take a city like Kathmandu, for instance. Most buildings in this city of 1 million people have flat roofs that could be utilized for rooftop gardening. Growing space, large plastic water tanks and plumbing are available on most of these roofs. It would be relatively simple to add all sorts of containers for growing food – pots, buckets, trays, etc. Vertical gardening is ideal for rooftop gardens because it maximizes the use of space. Train plants to grow upward on bamboo, poles, twine, recycled fish net and other locally available materials. Consider adding a compost bin for processing food scraps and an old bathtub or other container for a worm farm to boost soil nutrition. I’m sure people would gladly pay for fresh organic produce instead of the dusty, wilted produce currently available on the streets. Some trays of plants such as lettuce, kale, bok choy and cilantro could be cut fresh right when they’re purchased. Most produce could be sold to the buildings’ inhabitants for a fee through a CSA agreement.

Another option is building hoop houses or tunnels similar to the one we built in our forest garden: Our Mesh Hoop House is Finished. Structures like these would protect plants from cold spells, birds, monkeys and other pests.

Image source:
Thanks to Tamar from Israel for this suggestion. Kathmandu is an international crossroads where it’s easy to meet lots of foreigners who are working on all sorts of interesting projects. I compare my normal life at home like driving around the block. In Kathmandu, life is more like driving around a track in a race car – crazy but exciting.


Rooftop Gardens – Healthy Food for Cities — 6 Comments

  1. Great image! I love the rooftop garden movement. I think it is vital to show the landlords the benefits such as insulation and food for them. This will hopefully grow this trend in the US.

  2. hi,everyone.
    I`m in Taiwan, prepare to build an earthbag house.

    Can set rooftop gardens on top of flat roofed earthbag-building?
    How build flat roof for earthbag building?

    • A flat roof can be built on a vertical walled earthbag building. The roof would be created with strong wood, metal or concrete materials that can withstand the weight of such a garden. Such a roof should be carefully engineered.

  3. I love the idea of rooftop gardens! It’s such a good use of space especially when you’re limited in larger cities. New York City is taking advantage of both rooftops and barges. Thanks for the article!

  4. Don’t forget to check for pollution at roof level itself. Are there high levels of particulates from thousands of diesel engines below on gridlocked streets that make their way as far as the roof ? Is there similar pollution from chimneys at roof level ? It may be necessary to thoroughly wash roof-grown produce before consuming it ?

    • Some of the dust and particulates could be blocked with insect netting with greenhouse plastic on the very top. Or things could be grown entirely inside controlled greenhouses if conditions are really bad. Add a wash station on the roof or elsewhere to wash all produce. Deliver the produce direct to CSA members as soon as possible.

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