Food Chain Radio News
Food Chain Radio Show #975
Michael Olson, Author & Urban Farming Agriculturalist
FARMING IN THE SKY
Can it be practical to farm the roofs of our big cities?
Guest: Maggie Cheney, Director of Farms and Education, Farm-in-the-Sky Project, EcoStation NY; and Steven Peck, Founder and President, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Toronto, CA
There is a tremendous amount of extremely valuable land available in the big cities of the world. Trouble is, much of that vacant land is up on the roof where, it being out of site, it is mostly out of mind.
Being a Montana boy, I certainly did not give big city rooftops much thought, until I ran into an old friend whose family helped pioneer California’s strawberry industry.
(Note: Rental costs for berry acreage in California have been going “through the roof,” and so to survive in the business, successful berry farmers have had to become world-class experts at getting the most from their available space.)
When I asked how things were going in the berry business, he replied, “To survive into the future, we’re going to have to get off the ground!”
“What do you mean, ‘Get off the ground?’” I asked.
“Given the cost of land, the government regulations on using that land, the cost of water, and the difficulty in finding labor willing to stoop down and pick berries, we simply must get off the ground and start growing vertically with aeroponic and hydroponic systems. That way we could stack production up off the ground so workers would not have to stoop, and we could grow just about anywhere we find some vacant space!”
This look into the future got me to singing in the shower…
“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let me tell you now.”
Drying off from singing along with the Drifters “Up On The Roof,” I just have to ask…