Saturday, May 29, 2010

Seeds for Solution: Eating From as Close as Your Rooftop!

With the “locavore” trend rising in its founding city of San Francisco and around the world, we ask ourselves: Is eating within a hundred mile radius of the city you live in viable? In San Francisco, yes. In Oklahoma, probably not.
So what are your options? With your eco-friendly hearts in mind, Viv explored ways in which you can make your global footprints smaller:
Rooftop Gardens! They are easy, affordable, and most importantly one step closer to reducing your “food mile.” You may be asking yourself, what are some of the perks of a rooftop garden besides being eco-friendly? Are they really worth it? Here is a list of alternative uses of a rooftop garden that you may have never thought of!
  • Increases energy conservation. The rooftop plants provide natural insulation to rooftops by reflecting light and heat. The extra insulation can reduce the need for heating or cooling mechanisms, which cuts down on energy use and home utility costs.
  • Reduces “Heat Island Effect.” Many large cities experience increased daytime temperatures caused by numerous rooftops. Since urban areas tend to have more buildings, the rooftops absorb heat and light and then radiate it back into the area. Rooftop gardens can aid in reducing this effect, partially by absorbing some of the sunlight and providing shade for the buildings.
  • Rain Regulation. Rooftop gardens may be beneficial in areas which accumulate a great deal of rain; storm runoff water can especially overflow sewer systems. The plants can absorb some of the rainwater and limit the runoff from excess water. Rooftop gardening, in turn, has the potential to reduce the occurrences of flooding.
  • Space Saver. Rooftop gardens can free up any ground space you may have as well as reduce the distance you have to travel to get freshly grown produce!
Sound like a good idea? Here are 6 easy steps to starting your rooftop garden:
1. You do not need a penthouse apartment or a large house in the country to make a rooftop garden—a rooftop garden can be proudly harvested on any roof in any setting! But do find out if it fits in with your building’s regulation code.
2. After identifying a spot on your roof, choose plants/vegetables/herbs. Here’s a helpful video to guide you through this process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z38VnZk5xOw&feature=related
3. Get containers. Their size depends on the size and type of the plants you choose. They should be lightweight but stable + provide good drainage! See how its done:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8Q9Rw6sRVA&feature=fvw
4. Decide how you will water the garden. Watering the garden can be as easy as carrying the water up by hand or installing an automatic watering system. Helpful hint: To check if your plants need watering, poke your finger one inch deep into the soil. If it is barely moist, it is time to water. Water the plant until the excess runs out of the bottom of the container.
5. Protect your plants! Use windbreaks to ensure you don’t lose your newly grown food. Large pots can serve as a great windbreaker.
6. Don’t be discouraged if that first set of tomatoes doesn’t come out right—unfortunately, you can’t buy a green thumb! Maybe that will be Viv’s next development?
Check out this site to learn more about sustainable rooftop farming: SkyVegetables.com