Day 31: Rooftop Resourcefulness

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January 31, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

Wow.  Project #31.  Closing out the first month of 2012.  I’d say we’re off to a great start – having found and supported projects that have been beautiful, useful, fun, maybe even world-changing – often all at once.  I’d say The Kick-Off is on track and I’m looking forward to seeing what February has to offer.

As for now, it’s time yet again to acknowledge the latest fad in food: urban agriculture.  I began the Kick-Off with a project that reflected the importance of changing our food production system and I think it’s an important enough issue to bring up once again as our first month of 2012 closes.

Urban agriculture is a model for food production that strives for sustainability, locality, resourcefulness and a love for fresh, nutritious food.  These elements combined make this growing trend (Get it?  Growing?) something I love to support.  It’s a movement away from the current industrialized food infrastructure (discussed previously) and one that I have a lot of hope for.  It seems like urban gardens are sprouting up in cities all over the U.S. – often more than one at a time – which I’m hoping will produce a wealth of new techniques and technologies to advance the urban, sustainable agriculture infrastructure.  There’s not yet been a single definitive answer to resolving our dependence on distant and industrialized foods, and perhaps there needn’t be just one, so I’m spreading the Kickstarter-funded love around by backing yet another promising development in city farming.

The Urban Canopy is a hydroponic, vertical garden occupying 3,000 sq.ft. of unused space atop the roof of The Plant (which itself is a unique and interesting place with a long history and some big ideas for sustainable agriculture) in the heart of Chicago.

We estimate that this rooftop farm will then produce about 2,700 pounds of lettuces, mustard greens, chards, kale, peppers, tomatoes, squash, and more!

That’s a more than a ton of veggies that no longer has to be flown and trucked into the city from elsewhere, not to mention spared the numerous chemical treatments they would have sustained if grown in a factory field.  Is your roof this useful?

My hope is that The Urban Canopy will pave the way for future developments – proving that this is more than some hippy’s dream come true, and actually represents an economically-sound (and nutritionally-dense) option for food production.  I’d love to see rooftop gardens erected all over the U.S., so let’s help put this one lead the way.


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