The bottom line is that cities can’t afford not to invest in rooftop agriculture. The societal and environmental benefits of rooftop food production far outweigh the practice’s costs, particularly when expanded across a skyline. Without targeted policy changes and financial incentives, however, rooftop agriculture will remain unaffordable to most people. It is through this governmental action that rooftop farms and gardens can become a reality for individuals and communities.
There are currently no commercial rooftop farms in the U.S. that support themselves exclusively through sales. Many depend on grants or funding from external beneficiaries, as well as significant amounts of volunteer labor. Some farms have been successful in attracting investors, which is a wise strategy for gaining startup capital. Gotham Greens in Brooklyn, NY (gothamgreens.com) is a commercial rooftop farm worth keeping an eye on. The 15,000 sf hydroponic greenhouse facility is headed by a savvy CEO who hopes that Gotham Greens will become the first commercially viable rooftop farm in the country.
The diagram above weighs the costs of urban rooftop agriculture (left) against the benefits (right). The comparison ranks factors in terms of significance, where the largest text represents the most significant cost or benefit.