Fresh From the Roof

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...

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So, this is a welcome development.

Fresh produce being grown on the roofs of buildings is becoming an acceptable, almost normal, method. That’s good. Urban farmers are proliferating. Folks are putting in gardens, chicken coops, even raising tilapia fish in their backyards.

These are tremendous, positive efforts providing fresh food where maybe it didn’t exist before.

That’s why we read with such interest how a large supermarket is seeing the wisdom of using available space to grow fresh food.

Rouses Supermarket is the first market to open in New Orleans’ Warehouse District in 50 years and by all accounts it’s changing the way folks around there are shopping for food.

And now word comes from NOLA that innovation is growing on their roof in the form of fresh produce in a partnership with two former Tulane University students.

Ryan Rivet writing on Tulane.edu explains:

Rouses looked into Aquaponic Modular Production Systems (AMPS), an agriculture development company founded by former Tulane students Doug Jacobs and Kevin Morgan-Rothschild, and determined their technology was the right one to make the concept of an urban farm a reality.

"This is a great fit for Rouses," says Morgan-Rothschild. "The product travels about 50 steps before it reaches the shelves, plus it's an automated system, so they don't have to worry about watering or weeding."

The first of its kind in the United States, the Roots on the Rooftop garden is an aeroponic farm where plants grow out of 59 vertical soilless towers fed by a constant flow of water, air and nutrients, which allow the herbs to grow twice as fast while taking up less space.

"With aeroponics, the roots are suspended in air, which allows more oxygen to reach the roots and that allows for explosive growth," says Morgan-Rothschild.

You might be wondering, "What are Aeroponics?"

Aeroponics is a version of hydroponics where plants are suspended in air and occasionally soaked with a nutrient-rich solution. The water-based solution flows on the roots, drips into a reservoir and is then re-circulated. This method maximizes oxygen availability at the root zone promoting greater plant growth. This technology allows concentrated growing, allowing 44 plants to grow in just 6 square feet.

So, lots of food in not much space with resources used to the utmost.

Win. Win.

We are wholeheartedly behind efforts big and small to produce real food for the nourishment of all kinds of people. This is another great example.

Click here to read the full article.

Photo credit: Aaron Turner | NYT Institute

Do you have any experience with urban farming? What was your experience like?