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A Greenhouse Garden on the Rooftop

Handout, Architect's concept, Lufa Farms, Montreal.Montreal is surrounded by local farms that have a very short growing season. Consequently, supermarkets cannot rely upon them for year round delivery. Instead, produce is sourced from around the globe. Imagine how awful that food tastes once it has been genetically modified to withstand premature harvesting, packaging, on board ripening and retail handling. While the food imported from Central and South America, is very affordable and tasty, many avoid it because it is reported to be grown and harvested under extremely unsanitary conditions.

That is why I am so happy to have discovered that the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse garden will soon be built in Montréal. It will be a relief to have a reliable, local source of fresh, tasty food. This news made the front page of the Business section of our local newspaper, The Gazette, as reported by Alison MacGregor on October 28, 2010. The garden will sit on the roof of a two story building located within walking distance of the wholesale produce market that serves restaurants and independent grocers. The size of the greenhouse is expected to be 31,000 square feet, it will be operational by January 2011, and an expected first harvest will take place 6 weeks later. Produce grown here, hydroponically, will be herbicide and pesticide free and the growers insist that none of the plants will be genetically modified.

While the new greenhouse is expected to deliver its crops within 24 hours after harvesting, its business model does not include supermarkets. Instead, it will target the consumer with a home delivery program and it will appeal to local chefs. Some of the finest restaurants in North America are situated in Montréal. These establishments will be delighted to source superior tasting produce for their operations.

Rooftop gardening began as a decorative, aesthetic and environmentally friendly way to help offset the heat radiated into the cores of cities by buildings, pavement and automobiles. It was also intended to reduce pollution because plants absorb carbon dioxide. By insulating the structure below, the rooftop garden was also expected to reduce the consumption of energy needed to climate control the interior of the building.

Now that the rooftop concept is being modified by replacing an open garden with an enclosed greenhouse, I expect that the garden will offer no environmental benefits such as capturing carbon dioxide or reducing heat of city spaces. Furthermore, the saving of energy needed to heat and cool a two story building might be negligible because energy will still be required to operate the greenhouse. In the end, the greatest benefit from this project will be the opportunity to eat freshly harvested quality food. I can hardly wait. 

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Reader Comments (4)

Allan, this looks great! My daughter's neighbor is a rep for rooftop gardens and has one on top of her garden shed. I don;t think I have seen anything on this scale in the Chicago area.


October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

I think that this is a wonderful project and I hope it works out better than similar experiments in Newfoundland. ( Newfoundland has an extremely short growing season as you know. There was a large greenhouse project that was mismanaged. Read more:
I am in favor of buying locally grown food and always shop at the Farmers Market in the spring/summer/fall. You are right that buying local gets more challenging in winter. Local greenhouse produce may be more expensive than cheap imports however. I think consumers are getting more on board with paying more for quality, but in a recession there is always that strong tug towards the bottom line.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

This is great! I hope i get to see it some time. And that more projects like this keep apearing.
I also hope one day to have my own garden on the rooftop of my house

October 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfer

That is really cool. I hope it works out, and becomes a model that other localities can replicate. Fresh produce is always so much better and better for you than the foods that are imported over long distances.

Stan Horst

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStan Horst

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