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Natural Blow Job

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, May 30, 2016

Natural Blow Job

Like an endless army of parachutists released from an airplane, seeds and fruits travel the wind currents and gentle breezes of the earth, possibly colonizing a distant mountain slope or fertile valley potentially 1000 miles from their origin. Literally hundreds of species in many plant families have adopted this remarkable method of dispersal and make the promoters of native plants look like a fool.

Imagine a little parachutist seed can fly 1000 miles in ten days it still takes probably 20-30 generations and 15-20 years getting around the globe. Seeds found in hail or high altitude air samples confirm that this is not a fiction.

Plants have very limited mobility and consequently rely upon a variety of dispersal vectors. Wind is only one and there are many other smart ways. The easiest might be humans. If a plant gives humans a trade-off (nice flower, fruit etc.) they can carry them as far and nowadays in a much short time.

Relocating to a faraway location isn’t always successful but it is necessary for the specie to survive in evolution where natural and manmade forces might eliminate the original place. Especially under fast changing climate conditions it is important for specie to stay flexible or to mix with similar species to create more resident ones.   

Comparing to this smart and self-sustaining way of plants, many humans make themselves to fool by either helping to transport the plants or by categorizing plants into native and non-native.  Doesn’t it sound like schizophrenia when you get a LEED point for native plants on a 500sf Green Roof downtown Manhattan and at the same time(GMO) corn is grown on almost 100,000,000 acres across the US?

There is no question that the worlds Gen-pool of all organisms must be preserved but the way as it is approached seems in most cases unprofessional and desperate.  Being 45 years a gardener, I understand that nature has its own way – we can be part of it but we can’t be the director of it.

 

Visiting 1st Solar Garden Roof

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A vast experimental roof top garden is located on the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Building on Randall’s Island.  A few years ago the department opened its roof top up to companies to display their latest innovations in green roofing.  Over the years several dozen technologies have been installed, making the roof top home to hundreds of kinds of plants.  From lightweight extensive green roofs, to vegetable farms, to solar garden roofs, all kinds of green roofs are open for public tours.

During the early spring of 2012 we had the pleasure of installing four of our Sun-Root™ Modules on the roof, making the department’s building home to the first Solar Garden Roof System in the United States.  Super Storm Sandy made landfall only 6 months after installation and the system was successfully wind tested with maximum sustained winds at 85 mph with some gusts reaching 92 mph. 

Jörg recently visited the roof top and came back with some beautiful pictures we wish to share with you all. The system is engineered to support healthy plant growth under the PV panels - unique and brilliant! Ask us for details and investment options.

 Solar Garden Roof

Combining Urban Rooftop Farming with Public Transportation

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Saturday, June 22, 2013

By: Jörg Breuning

Photo: Bauder, SSB Stuttgart Germany

Germany is the country of inventors, poets and thinkers. According to historical research, rooftop farming has been a long tradition since the mid-evil times in the dense cities of Europe. The lack of open space inside city walls brought people up to their roofs. Because there was also no efficient sewer systems, it was easy to utilize the organic remains to fertilize and grow plants. Throughout the centuries, survival proved to be a tough journey, mainly caused by overpopulation. When it became too dangerous to venture from your house, people discovered their roofs as additional space for growing their own food in order to overcome these rough years. Currently we are witnessing this growing trend once again in many metropolis areas in North America. The motivation is still the same, jobs can be hard to find, it's difficult to stand out when everyone is competing for essentially the same things.

Luckily our sewer systems are more advanced today, synthetic fertilizers are cheap and these farms do not depend on organic remains anymore. The quality of food should be acceptable in this respect - disregarding the extreme rates of pollution within cities.

However, let us backtrack to the topic of inventions.

Growing food on rooftops of the public transportation system (buses and trains) can help to combine two major needs of urban citizens. The added value is that your transportation systems are now also farmer's markets and while riding the bus home from your cubical, you can manage all your food shopping in one step including fresh produce grown directly above - on the roof! If the roof of the transportation vehicle is a semi permeable membrane, the carrots actually can be harvested from the inside. How convenient would this be? Depending on the crop, the sunny routes have more sun loving veggies and the transportation system manages regular crop changes from a more balanced and diverse food supply. Think about all the new jobs being created!

Sure, this technology is just in the beginning stages, but with the current hype for locally grown and diverse environmental approaches, it is just a matter of time until people will also jump on the bandwagon (or bus). It is just as ideal to look for some free advertising space in the press.

So, see you on the Lemon Line or drop me a line from the carrot bus (they should probably invest in free WiFi too).

 

Jörg Breuning welcomes people who want to learn from decades
of green roof experience - askjorg@greenrooftechnology.com

Rooftop Farming an Environmental Nightmare

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, June 04, 2013

By: Jörg Breuning

Companies spend millions of dollars on creating rooftop farms to demonstrate how "green" they are. There is no doubt advertising with living green is a good idea because it makes the customers believe that the company practices environmental leadership.

However, the reality looks very differently.

Recently a food company started a huge campaign promoting their rooftop farm (and their green leadership) by opening a 17,000 square foot rooftop farm on the East Coast.They were optimistic that they could grow 10,000 pounds of produce during the short growing season. This is approximately 25% over the average vegetable and berry crop yields estimated for New England on the ground during a good year, based on traditional irrigated farmland.

Since environmental conditions on rooftops are more extreme, achieving this goal seems ambitious and will require higher amounts of water and fertilizer. With more moisture in green roof soil the main benefit of green roofs (stormwater retention) is sacrificed and the run-off will most likely now contain more nutrients than in the run-off from traditional farms. Nutrients are already the number one pollutant in our waterways.

Based on these harsh environmental conditions growing crops on rooftops will be more labor intensive.

A 17,000 square foot rooftop farm requires approximately 300 tons of engineered growing media (soil) or 672,000 pounds in order to grow an average of 8,000 pounds of produce a year. In other words, it takes more than 80 years to grow the equivalent crop weight that was transported up onto the roof in the first place. This does not include the tons of water, fertilizer or structural support for the building that has to be shipped to the city and hoisted up on to the roof to start and maintain the garden.

Roof top farms ultimately increase the shipping (costs) of goods into cities. Shipping produce from a farm located on the ground is cheaper and more efficient because everything necessary to sustain the farm is already at hand. The food from rooftop farms is being transported a shorter distance creating a false sense of environmental responsibility. When in reality, the amount of materials essential to implement and maintain a rooftop farm outweighs the good in this situation.

Consider this: every person consumes 200-400 pounds of produce in a year (Profiling Food Consumption in America in 2000, Agricultural Fact Book) and an average of 8,000 pounds feeds around 20-40 people and requires at least one full-time, skilled farmer.

On a traditional field, one farmer can easily manage a 10-20 times larger area with a higher yield per acre using organic principals, which are not even discussed with most roof top farms.

Buyers of food from companies with rooftop farms are misled by advertising and are paying more for their goods while supporting a trend known as Greenwashing.

Jörg Breuning welcomes people who want to learn from decades of green roof experience - askjorg@greenrooftechnology.com

 



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