top 5 rooftops of 2013

Gary Comer Youth Center

First Lady Michelle Obama at the Gary Comer Youth Center || photo by Gary Comer Youth Center

Rooftop agriculture reached new heights in 2013 thanks to enthusiasts around the globe like you!  Skyline farms and gardens sprouted up in record numbers, bringing fresh fruits and veggies to tables to urbanites from New York to Seattle.  What a year.  Let’s put our hands together for the countless rooftop farmers, gardeners, restauranteurs, entrepreneurs, designers, and chefs who are redefining “local” and reshaping our food system.

By popular demand, here are the top 5 most inspirational rooftops of 2013:

Higher Ground Farm || photo by Maureen White, courtesy of Higher Ground Farm

5| Higher Ground Farm – This year’s completion of Higher Ground Farm‘s first 2,000 square feet keeps all eyes on the roof of the Boston Design Center.  The commercial farm’s full buildout promises the largest agricultural roof in New England.  Direct sales to local restaurants and a planned CSA bring the farmers’ nine-story produce directly to Boston’s blossoming food scene.  Read more here.

The Fairmont Waterfront || photo by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

4| The Fairmont Waterfront – Vancouver’s The Fairmont Waterfront hotel is home to one of North America’s oldest rooftop farms.  Executive chef Dana Hauser collaborates with her team of chefs and growers to incorporate fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and honey produced on the hotel’s rooftop into the dishes down below.  The international Fairmont Hotel & Resort parent company supports rooftop agriculture on locations in Canada, the US, and Singapore, with unlimited potential to expand further.  Read more here.

McCormick Place Rooftop Farm || photo by Lauren Mandel

3| McCormick Place – Chicago’s convention center took “local” to a whole new level this year by welcoming Windy City Harvest to its roof.  The Chicago Botanic Garden’s urban agriculture program that provides hands-on training converted 11,000 square feet (1/4 acre) of Sedum green roof into a functional farm to provide the building’s catering company with fresh ingredients.  Windy City Harvest hopes to expand the farm to a full acre in seasons to come.  Read more here.

First Lady Michelle Obama at the Gary Comer Youth Center || photo by Gary Comer Youth Center

2| Gary Comer Youth Center – The Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago’s South Side strives “to improve urban education and the lives of children.”  The Center’s 8,000 square root rooftop farm acts as a safe, outdoor classroom that allows neighborhood kids to learn about gardening and healthy eating.  First Lady Michelle Obama visited the inspirational farm in 2012 with the spouses of NATO Heads of State.  The rooftop agriculture community appreciates Mrs. Obama’s support and encourages her to continue promoting gardening and nutrition initiatives in 2014.

Gotham Greens flagship location || photo by Ari Burling

1| Gotham Greens – This hydroponic trend setter takes the cake as 2013s most influential rooftop farm.  With two Brooklyn locations and a third slated for Queens in 2014, Gotham Greens exemplifies the entrepreneurial potential and economic viability of rooftop agriculture.  The company showcases how to grow an extraordinary amount of food in tight, urban quarters by producing one ton of food per 100 square feet every year.  Thanks to Gotham Greens and other greenhouse giants, rooftop hydroponics are increasingly fueling North American cities with fresh, delicious food.  Read more here.

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