A recent article published by environmental news site Grist discusses the merits and future of rooftop farming, which has caught people's attention in part because of the success of Uncommon Ground, a restaurant in Chicago that grows its produce on the roof. While urban rooftop gardens have been a staple of areas like Brooklyn and Boston for years, the notion of growing food on a commercial scale atop buildings is a relatively new concept that has been put into practice in just a few places the last couple of years.
The advantages of this method are obvious: The urban location of rooftop farms make it much easier to transport and deliver fruits and vegetables to the people who eat them. This cuts down on energy consumption, as the produce doesn't have to be shipped thousands of miles to reach your plate, and typically these farms are operated sustainably and responsibly, unlike conventional factory farms.
Among other benefits, rooftop farming cools buildings, raises property values, and convert unused space that would otherwise remain unoccupied.
Steven Peck, president of the Toronto-based nonprofit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, tells the source that five years ago, there were no such farms in North America. He now estimates that there are about 20 in existence, and that there could be as many as 100 five years from now. The main obstacle to the spread of this trend are zoning policies that limit the expanse of urban agriculture, but there are efforts in many cities to rewrite these regulations in an effort to encourage the construction of these projects.