mercredi 17 juin 2009

Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun

COVER CAP Maya Donelson tends the rooftop garden of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco .

THIS summer, Tony Tomelden hopes to be making bloody marys at the Pug in Washington , D.C. , with tomatoes and chilies grown above the bar, thanks to the city’s incentives for green roofs.

Mr. Tomelden, the Pug’s principal owner, says he’s planting a garden to take advantage of tax subsidies the city offers in his neighborhood if he covers his roof with plants.
“If I can do something in my corner for the environment, that seemed a reasonable thing to do,” he said. “Plus I can save money on the tomatoes.”
City dwellers have long cultivated pots of tomatoes on top of their buildings. But farming in the sky is a fairly recent development in the green roof movement, in which owners have been encouraged to replace blacktop with plants, often just carpets of succulents, to cut down on storm runoff, insulate buildings and moderate urban heat.
A survey by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, which represents companies that create green roofs, found the number of projects its members had worked on in the United States grew by more than 35 percent last year. In total, the green roofs installed last year cover 6 million to 10 million square feet, the group said.
Tax incentives have accelerated the plantings of green roofs, particularly in Chicago , which has encouraged green roofs for almost a decade. The Chicago chef Rick Bayless uses tomatoes and chilies he grows atop his restaurant Frontera Grill to make Rooftop Salsa.
New York State has subsidies both for roofs with succulents spread out over a thin layer of soil and for edible plants covering a smaller area. A proposed amendment to New York City ’s tax abatement for some roof projects would include green roofs. Most roof gardeners aren’t in it for the money.
In the process, she estimates she carried up 500 of the 1,500 pounds of soil they bought and put in planters.
“My decision to start a garden is an extension of my work,” Ms. Crossfield said. “Growing my own food helps me understand better what I write about: how food gets to our table, the difficulties it entails.” It’s not all about agricultural policy, she added.
“The bottom line,” she said, “is that I harbor a secret desire to be a farmer, and my way of doing that is to use what I have, which is a roof.”
Two weeks ago Ms. Crossfield transplanted seedlings from her apartment onto the roof: golden zucchini, oakleaf lettuce, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, watermelon, rainbow chard, cucumbers, nasturtiums, calendula, sunflowers, amaranth greens, tomatoes and herbs.
In San Francisco ’s Tenderloin district, Maya Donelson has filled planter boxes with vegetables on a 900-square-foot patch of roof at the Glide Memorial Church . For the last two years she has managed the Graze the Roof Project at the church’s Glide Center , a neighborhood social service provider.
The food goes to the center’s volunteers and children in the neighborhood who work in the garden one day a week and learn to cook what they grow.

COMMENTAIRE DE DIVERCITY
LES POTAGERS SUSPENDUS SAN FRANCISCO
Selon le New York Times, c’est la grande mode à New York et à San Francisco. On imagine que le prochain gouvernement bruxellois présidé par Evelyne Huytebroeck imaginera des primes semblables à celles qui ont été introduites à Frisco pour promouvoir la multiplication des potagers suspendus dans la capitale européenne.

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