Growing food in your own backyard is hardly a new concept, nor is utilizing any open space available if you live in the city, but turning your rooftop into a garden? Well that idea has caught on in cities throughout the world, and now is starting to gain a foothold in the United States as well.
Rooftop gardens are by no means new. Forward thinking, environmentally conscious, or penurious city dwellers have been doing it for as long as there have been city dwellers. But recently the rooftop garden movement has started to gain some traction, inspired by the environmental benefit of more green space in a city (it reduces the “heat island” effect), and the appeal of home grown organic veggies just steps away have given the movement some serious traction.
Large metropolises across North America – including New York City, Washington DC, and Chicago have also sweetened the deal by offering tax incentives and subsidies to encourage green rooftops, and Toronto, Canada also has a new law requiring buildings of a certain size to have a green roof. Though the Green Roof Bylaw in Toronto has garnered some criticism (mostly from developers) it has been well received by residents in the city as a means to increase the amount of green space, offset their carbon emissions, and generally to be a greener city.
You can read check out the City of Toronto and their Green Roof Program website.
As more and more municipalities encourage residents to grow on their rooftops, press coverage and mainstream acceptance of the practice is slowly increasing. A recent article in the New York Times discussed the practice of rooftop gardening in cities from San Francisco to New York, giving practitioners affirmation of what they’re known for many years – all that beautiful sunshine beating down on your apartment roof is indeed good for something…
You can click to read the full New York Times article.
Some other benefits of green roofs (whether or not they include home grown produce) include the reduction of storm water run off, reduction of energy consumption, increase of some habitat area for local and migratory birds, and ability to draw beneficial insects back into cities.