Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Now That's a Rooftop Garden

The Rooftop Garden Project: Liberating Spaces for Healthy Cities

We're doing this as individuals, with no institutional support, on our rooftops in Chicago. This video shows what's being done in the City of Montreal on a much larger scale.

They've opened up a whole new space for community gardening by making SIPs available to large numbers of people. By following their model, a Program isn't limited to existing, and oversubscribed, official Community Gardens, but can include balconies, decks, plazas and other common areas.

Inside Urban Green has more to say about the Montreal Project.

Is it just a matter of approaching the right politician(s), Hello Alderman Manny Flores!, to make this happen here?

Anyone else out there want to do this in Chicago?


H2 said...

I'd love to be involved in setting up a Montreal-type program in Chicago. There is no down-side.

'lolo d said...

I just wanna thank you for all the information and inspiration on sub irrigated planters and the imaginative and evolving ways to build and utilize them . also the discussion of safe and unsafe plastics
is terribly important as well. I am currently wondering if aluminum flashing might be something safe to use . There was a pretty neat design
on the Inside Urban Green site that I was all gung-ho to replicate until I read your information about the dangers of poly styrene . As it used expanded poly styrene ( EPS )
in the reservoir I kinda wondered if I could substitute strips of aluminum flashing . any thoughts on this ?
I work and volunteer for a community garden activist organization in Richmond , Va.called Tricycle Gardens . One of our gardens is a container garden on an asphalt parking lot ... really wish I had known about sub irrigated planters 3 years ago but am quite happy I know about'em now .
found out about you from Avedon Carol's Sideshow 2 months ago and have been on a bit of a tear regarding SIP's ever since . Thanks again

Bruce said...

Hi 'lolo d,

Thanks for the kind words.

It's hard to know what's safe sometimes, or even what safe means. Trying to make it cheap and safe is even tougher.

Using some kind of metal sounds like a good idea. The only other place I can think of where metal comes in contact with drinking water is when rain water is collected and then used. This site says that galvanized metal, typically used on roofs, is a bad idea. No idea if aluminum leaches though. Apparently it leaches enough that it shouldn't be used in fish ponds.

Along the same lines was this that said as long as the metal was painted, it's ok.

Another angle might be fired clay or cement. Since you're sitting on the ground the weight wouldn't be an issue. This post from Yahoo's Edible Container Gardens group touches on that. The free group is full of passionate, helpful people.

Nice to hear about your project; hearing about other peoples work gives me a little boost.

Bruce said...

Forgot to add this link to an (old) scientific study of rooftop runoff. It seems like aluminum roofs don't leach like galvanized do. (?)

Here's the pdf if that doesn't work.

You might be able to find more by googling any of this, but it seems like hard scientific data isn't available. Or if it is, it isn't clear how to relate that information to what we're doing.

Let us know what you come up with.

cesar said...

Hi Bruce,

I'm just wondering if you've been able to have any conversations with folks involved in the Mayor's Office Rooftop garden grant program? I'm fairly new to Chicago so I don't know a lot about it, but I know that True Natural co-op in Edgewater received a 5,000 dollar grant to install a rooftop garden. So clearly there is some institutional space that this sort of program might be able to move into. I had a conversation with a few state senators at a recent community meeting in Uptown and they seemed to be very excited about the educational and job training potential of rooftop gardening on a slightly larger scale. So I think that with the right combination of stakeholders something could be put together. I'd love to talk to you more about this (and also take a look at your set up and pick your brain a bit.) Feel free to respond to me via email at