Urban rooftop gardens. Grow locally, even in cities

A restaurant in Chicago, Uncommon Grounds, grows organic produce on their roof and uses solar to heat 50% of their water while Lufa Farms in Montreal is building a a 31,000 square foot rooftop greenhouse.

“Our goal simply is to be a neighborhood food source and raise the bar on the issue of traceability. We think it’s important that people know where their food comes from, that they can say, ‘Yes, I can see where my food is grown. It’s grown right over there.'”

The greenhouse is designed to withstand Montreal winters as well as producing over 25 types of vegetables – with no pesticides or herbicides.

Extreme urban gardening. Plantagon geodesic dome farm

plantagon urban farm geodesic dome

The Plantagon wants to put farming in the cities via the amazing Plantagon dome farm. With most people now living in cities, it makes sense to grow food locally in cities and not transport it. While I applaud the visionary scale of such a project, I’m always a little skeptical of massive city architecture, especially when it’s just plopped down and clearly is aimed at wealthier people only.

Would it be nice to go to a farmer’s market inside the Plantagon? Absolutely. But I’m guessing the produce would be organic and expensive. Thus it really would just benefit those with higher incomes. Too much architecture in big cities seems designed for precisely that. The poor aren’t wanted or welcome.

Dragonfly vertical farm for a future New York

dragonfly building

I’m of two minds about such fanciful, creative ideas for urban architecture and urban gardening. Sure, the ideas are brilliant and imaginative, but will they get build? More to the point, should they get built?

I mean, the only people who could work and live in such wondrous places are those who are already well-off. Everyone else need not bother to enter, except for those with jobs as support staff and presumably after passing through layers of security.

Such massive urban architecture often creates its own self-contained world with surrounding areas becoming irrelevant and probably falling into decay. Those inside the pleasure dome would never need to go outside. (Indeed, with this plan, the building is in a river, majestically isolated from everything else.) But this is no way to build a vibrant, alive city with people walking on the streets. Cities need to be for everyone, not just an elite few.