Monday, July 16, 2018

Rooftop Gardens

Posted by Richard B. Primack

Why not take elevated and broader views, walk in the great garden, 
not skulk in a little “debauched” nook of it? 
Thoreau in Excursions

Flat rooftops are an increasingly popular location for city gardening. While growing ornamental plants on roofs provides enjoyment, vegetable gardens are a valuable source of fresh local produce. The Roof Top Garden at Boston Medical Center serves many functions, including providing vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, and kale for their cafeteria, for employees, and for low-income populations.  


Roof Top Garden with the Boston Medical Center in the background.

In addition, the farm provides a place for patients and staff to relax and participate in a farming experience.  Student groups visit the farm to learn about agriculture, and recent immigrants work there to gain job skills.  


Water and fertilizer are applied directly to plant roots using a tube system that minimizes evaporation and run-off.

The Roof Top Farm also developes new farming techniques, involving soils, containers, watering systems, and pest control, that will be shared with others interested in rooftop farming. 


On the roof of the Stone Science Building, Sarabeth describes her research to Boston University freshmen.

Sarabeth Buckley, a grad student at Boston University’s Earth and Environment Department, carries out research on the biogeochemistry of rooftop gardening. She investigates if spinach plants grow faster if fertilized with carbon dioxide generated by students breathing in classrooms. 


Classroom air with a high carbon dioxide concentration is applied to spinach plants. Will they grow faster?

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