Thursday, June 18, 2009


"City dwellers have long cultivated pots of tomatoes on top of their buildings.But farming in the sky is a fairly recent development in the green roof movement, in which owners have been encouraged to replace blacktop with plants."

Marian Burros, "Urban Farming, A Bit Closer to the Sun," The New York Times, June 17, 2009.

So much for thinking ahead. We replaced our rowhouse roof several years ago without a thought of greening. A tight, insulated roof was our mantra. Our postage-stamp backyard with more shade than sun could barely fire-up our composter. What were we not thinking?

Of course, we suffered from battle fatigue from years of roof leaks manifesting themselves in every nook and cranny of the house, fueled by the mysterious leakage trails throughout our walls. We had wildy different inspections,diagnoses,and interventions before going all the way. Now, the thought of messing with our roof seems like blasphemy.

The other,small problem is how to get up there. We have a hallway-ceiling entry, much like a submarine escape hatch, that requires a ladder and a gymnastic contortion to pull oneself up and out -- after hammering off the sealed hatch lid.

I also have a sneaky suspicion that making the rooftop garden work will not exactly pencilout in the short run. We'll need a long payback period, a pledge to personally ward of global warming, and some robust assumptions about changed eating habits, especially for our children. But, still, a rooftop garden would be fun -- and do some good for the world.

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