Supermarkets in Brussels have recently started growing fruit and vegetables on their rooftops as part of a project that has been financed by the European Union. The aim is simple - to hopefully improve the lives of under privileged people and to see whether the practice is sustainable.
So far over two tonnes of fruit and vegetables have been harvested and is even used by local restaurants, reported Euro News. However, Brussels is not the only country testing out rooftop garden projects such as the one described here. All around the world, rooftop gardens have been popping up like a game of whack a mole. Currently, there are seven countries with some of the worlds largest rooftop gardens. Lets take a look at some of the other rooftop farm projects making an impact.
Canada: World’s Largest Rooftop Farm
The world’s largest rooftop farm is located in Ville Saint-Laurent, Montreal, and was opened in 2020, boasting over 15,000 square metres. Per week the farm produced over 11,000kg of food - currently feeding around 2% of the city’s population.
Co-founder Lauren Rathmell says that the farm should help to meet an ‘ever-growing demand for fresh, local, and responsible foods’.
Europe’s Largest Rooftop Farm
Agripolis is Europe’s largest rooftop farm and is built on the Paris Exhibition Centre. It opened in 2020 and has since been growing plants using vertical aeroponic farming. This approach is good for the environment as it uses 95% less irrigation than plants grown in soil, and since these types of farms are usually based in cities, transportation costs are massively reduced.
Hong Kong: The Highest Rooftop Farm
As of writing, the highest rooftop farm is located in Hong Kong. It sits on top of the Bank of America Tower on the 39floor on top of an abandoned helicopter pad and first opened its doors in 2013, where it has been operating ever since.
They grow a variety of vegetables, including carrots, rhubarb and radishes.
Singapore: A Farm Using Aquaponics
This quirky rooftop farm uses aquaponics to grow its food, a method that uses fish waste and microbes in order to feed and grow the plants. The vegetables then clean the water and in turn, the clean water is fed back to the fish, resulting in a mutually beneficial cycle. Using this method is also beneficial to the plants as the waste and microbes help the nutrition of the plant.
The farm sits on top of two hotels, and provides them with fresh fish and food. This of course comes from the rooftop farm.
Rotterdam: The ‘Flood-Fighting’ Rooftop Farm
Located in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, this ‘flood-fighting’ rooftop urban farm spans over 1000m2 and uses an intelligent water storage system that is automatically driven by the weather forecast, helping the city to fight back against flooding.
This urban farm grows vegetables, herbs, flowers and organic fruits, some of which they deliver to local restaurants. They also keep bees.
Thailand: The Rooftop Farm That Provides 80,000 Meals
This rooftop farm located in the Pathum Thani Province and sits on top of the roof of Thammasat University, spanning over an area of 22,000 square meters. It is also one of Asia’s largest rooftop farms.
This urban farm certainly gets the job done, and provides the university students with around 80,000 meals per year, which is quite an impressive feat. The farm produces over 40 different varieties of crop, including vegetables, herbs, fruit and rice alongside other produce.
Just like some of the other rooftop farms, they use sustainable food production, as well as renewable energy and water management. Integrating all of these elements helps to reduce any CO2 emissions associated with food production.
They also use solar panels, which are capable of producing up to 500,000 watts per hour. This is used to supply water to the urban farm and power the rest of the structure.
Their water managements system consists of a network of terraces that control the flow of water in a ‘cascade system’. This system is supposedly up to twenty times more efficient than traditional concrete rooftops. There is even plenty of public space available.
Montreal: The Shopping Centre Rooftop Farms
A total of four smaller rooftop farms have popped up around Montreal, Canada. However, these urban rooftop farms are actually sitting on top of shopping centers, with farms located in Laval, Ahuntsic, Anjou and Ville Saint-Laurent, which was most recently constructed in 2020.
They all use sustainable practices and water irrigation systems. Their aim is to built a healthier, more sustainable local food system and to help build community.
Singapore: The Car Park Urban Farm
After finding inspiration from an urban farm she visited in New York, Danielle Chan, the founder of Citiponics, decided to launch her own urban farm journey. She hopes that the farm will help to support the increased demand for food as the pressure mounts from population growth.
They use a vertical growing system which has been optimized for agricultural sustainability and is zero-waste. They grow a variety of produce for the locals which is free from pesticides.
Benefits of Rooftop Farm Projects
Rooftop farms are on the rise, and may help to meet growing food demand. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that they can provide:
• Less Carbon Emissions Produced: Local rooftop farms may help to reduce carbon emissions associated with food transportation, as the food doesn’t have to travel as far. Many rooftop farms also use sustainable farming methods and even solar panels, which will help to reduce agricultural related CO2 emissions even more when compared to ‘traditional’ farming methods.
• The ‘Heat-Island’ Effect: Studies have shown that rooftop gardens can help to cool the surrounding areas, potentially helping to combat the ‘urban heat-island effect’. One study showed that rooftop gardens helped to reduce peak temperatures by as much as 11°C. Rooftop gardens may have the same effect if done on a wide scale. In turn this may help to reduce energy consumption, as the need for cooling buildings may be reduced.
• Retains Rainwater: Rooftop farms help to retain rainwater and may help to prevent any excess runoff which may put the surrounding area at risk of flooding.
• Psychological Benefits: Some studies have shown that an increased exposure to nature and vegetation can help to reduce levels of stress and anxiety.
Looking forward, we may begin to see rooftop gardens becoming more and more popular, particularly in urban environments such as cities or other densely populated areas. Every year, new farms are popping up all across the globe.