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Status: Funded

FOOD ROOF: Minimum Funding Needed is $25,000

Submitted By:
Urban Harvest STL
on 12.03.12

Urban Harvest STL

FOOD ROOF: Minimum Funding Needed is $25,000

The FOOD ROOF will be the first of its kind Rooftop Farm in St. Louis! This community rooftop farm will be situated downtown in the heart of city life and will create a new system of providing our community with access to hyper-local, organic food.

This is not just community garden, but a platform to sustain an entire ecosystem which includes raising chickens and tending bees, and innovative approaches to urban agriculture including hydroponics, aeroponics and vertical farming. The FOOD ROOF is envisioned to be a community platform, actively engaging and educating city dwellers of all walks on the ins and outs of a local food system. In order to do this the rooftop will include an outdoor classroom and gathering space for community events and outreach. The site and proposed design strives to elevate an otherwise normal urban experience into a transformational perspective on the possibilities which abound when fully integrated sustainable thinking is embraced.

We are hoping to raise a minimum of $25,000 in order to be able to build out phase 1, half the rooftop farm. We have also outlined steps to our ultimate goal of $65,000.

$25,000 This is for Phase 1, and will help us build about half of the rooftop farm. This includes a green roof system and soil, and bare minimum tools and infrastructure. Plus, with these funds, we’ll be able to buy a few bee boxes to ensure our crops are pollinated, not to mention boosting biodiversity in downtown St. Louis—and that’s good for everyone.

$35,000 With $35k, we can also build a chicken coop and raise chickens. This level of funding also enables us to add some hydroponic towers and other experimental rooftop technologies so that we can demonstrate various models of growing food in the city – models which can be replicated elsewhere.

$45,000 With $45k, we can build an outdoor education program and create a shaded, rooftop community gathering space (include seating). This space will enable us to reach out to the community and host workshops and events making the FOOD ROOF an exciting downtown destination.

$65,000 With $65k, we can build Phase 2, which includes all the infrastructure of the FOOD ROOF to transform the entire rooftop into a fully functioning farm and model for urban agriculture. We’ll also be able to add additional infrastructure such as a cold room for produce storage, a greenhouse, drip irrigation, mobile shade structures and an outdoor demonstration kitchenette.

You've heard of the 50 mile salad, we are talking the scale of a 5 block emission-free salad! Residents can walk one block to the rooftop to pick up a CSA share and hyper-local produce can be bicycle delivered to the numerous restaurants on Washington Avenue mere blocks away. It does not get more sustainable than this. Our broader vision is converting more of St. Louis's unused rooftops into other FOOD ROOF satellites. This business model has many environmental and community benefits, but most of all it engages people in the process so people get to know their urban farmer, learn where their food comes from, and become involved.

We are all part of the local food system, we are all part of the solution. This is a movement for everyone – if you eat, you’re in! Thank you for your support!

Mary Ostafi

Mary Ostafi said 2/23/2013

We need to develop many urban farms accross the city to have an impact on the local food system. In Delmar and the CWE, the opportunity may be LRA lots, but in downtown, where the largest population resides, the only opportunity is rooftops. There are many environmental benefits to green roofs from heat island mitigration and storm water management to reduced energy loads for the building. We should be installing green roofs on buildings anyway, why not make them productive and turn them into a community platform for urban ag.


ps2006 said 2/23/2013

I love the idea of Urban farming. After watching the BBC video on 'Delmar Divide' I have always thought it would be nice to see an urban farm bridging the on Delmar.!/content/28377/pulitzer_delmar_divide_120712 I want to understand why you are doing a roof top garden when abundents of lots are available on Delmar near CWE where the restaurants want to support local growers. I think a green roof is a good idea but roof top farm I am not convinced about.


Rhertzen said 2/17/2013

I support this project. Great idea!


Jakeb said 2/16/2013

The idea of rooftops used as gardens is great. But what about putting landscaped gardens (non-food) atop the vast empty space on top of the Convention Center downtown? People in nearby offices or hotel rooms above the 4 floor, must look down and see one huge dreary, empty space. it would be nicer to see some greenery hiding all the service crap up there.

Urban Harvest STL

Urban Harvest STL said 2/14/2013

Check out the FOOD ROOF video to learn more: You will get a 'kick' out of this!


pdizzle said 2/8/2013

@shane I think you are confusing downtown St. louis(which is what this project is all about and has zero suitable vacant lots) with the rest of St. Louis(which, yes, does in fact have lots of suitable vacant lots). Downtown is the key word.


Shane said 2/4/2013

I would support this if it wasn't on a roof top or if St. Louis was a city without much available land. St. Louis has empty lots all over where food could be planted without so much expense and would also beautify area.

Urban Harvest STL

Urban Harvest STL said 1/15/2013

@Christy, please send me an email:

Christy Schlafly

Christy Schlafly said 1/15/2013

I have a roof I would like to volunteer!

Greg Pusczek
Greg Pusczek

Greg Pusczek said 1/9/2013

Sorry folks but it's not a farm and won't feed many people at all unless the area is huge. It's a garden on a roof. I should know. I've had a garden on the 17th floor of the Paul Brown Building since 2006 planted in 24 four foot long rectangular planters. Rooftop growing in this climate is fine in early spring and late fall with cooler weather and I was able to grow very nice lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, herbs and lots of oriental greens. On the other hand it is very difficult to grow anything in the summer on the rooftop due to the higher heat up that high and the strong winds which really tear up large summer plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. And keep the water handy. You will be watering every day. Unless you have big money and huge rooftop space, this is what I would call a novelty garden. That's what I called mine. And I'm a professional grower but prefer to grow in the ground. Growing on the rooftop was just for fun and for the education of the people who live in my building. It can and is being done but the production costs really don't make it a feasible option. .

Dennis McGrath

Dennis McGrath said 1/5/2013

Excellent Idea! We need more of this in STL, design that exhibits passion and rigor. I love reading the reactions people have to good design -- it tells alot about this community.

Marianne Klein

Marianne Klein said 1/5/2013

Fabulous, timely idea! I'll volunteer.


Nichole said 1/3/2013

This needs to happen.


urbancre8r said 1/3/2013

Love it. Just getting people to do it. JO

Robert Griffin

Robert Griffin said 1/2/2013

2206 in votes this is so great, the interest in this project speaks for itself. We had a great 2012 at Urban Harvest and we hope to do even better in 2013. Urban farming can work, i look forward to the food roof.


maryo said 12/31/2012

Thank you everyone for your support of the FOOD ROOF project! Witnessing the votes add up day after day was truly inspiring and exciting for the many folks involved in the conception of this community rooftop farm. As the voting period draws to an end we look forward to the next steps with RallySTL. The timeline is unclear at the moment but we will be sharing updates on our fb page + Twitter: Have a Happy and Healthy New Year; let's GROW the FOOD ROOF in 2013!!!

Robert Griffin

Robert Griffin said 12/29/2012

I support this project 100% , I am an urban farmer with the Urban Harvest garden not far away. My fellow gardners and I logged many hours in 2011, and we had a productive first year. I belive if the food roof is a success, maybe other building owners will allow downtown residents to use the rooftops of other properties. Robert Griffin - Urban Harvest

Vincent Stemmler

Vincent Stemmler said 12/28/2012

Not to mention, growing food locally saves on carbon emissions from having to ship it in from further away. A similar project to this one is going on though Gateway Greening. It's called Farm Works, be sure to check it out too!

Skinny Cake

Skinny Cake said 12/27/2012

Hi Keith, I am with Vincent on this one. As cities become more dense, and the cost and environmental implications of shipping food from farms all over the world continues to grow, we are going to increasingly be looking to every available space within cities to grow food. Urban rooftops make a lot of sense as they are largely unused spaces, at the moment. Greening rooftops can not only provide fresh, affordable food to a community and build comity, it will also reduce energy costs for the building owner/tenants, create/maintain habitat for much needed critters such as pollinators (bees, butterflies etc.), boost biodiversity by providing habitat that is rapidly declining due to urban/suburban growth, help solve the growing problem cities have with managing storm water (green roofs/farms can slow down and reduce the amount of water overflowing into combined sewer systems and watersheds during, for example an extreme weather event), and mitigate the urban heat island effect in the city. So it's not just about one thing (i.e. food). NYC, for instance, has many successful community rooftop farms -- check this one out in Brooklyn as just one bright and shining example of what the Food Roof could be Also, I don't think that a food roof actually replaces the community garden(s) in STL, but rather, supports and enhances the food system and community. It truly is a win-win-win. Food really does matter and we need to become more self-sufficient and the Food Roof is part of the local solution towards achieving food security in the long-term. Hope this provides you with some, ahem, food for thought.

Vincent Stemmler

Vincent Stemmler said 12/24/2012

Keith, cities other than St. Louis have way more community gardens, look at larger places like Chicago and New York, it's about time STL does something like this! Gardening on rooftops saves space and creates insulation, and is way better looking!

Keith Jacobs

Keith Jacobs said 12/24/2012

there are so many community gardens in STL!!! How does making people carry stuff up an elevator/stairs add anything to the city?

Chris Bowman

Chris Bowman said 12/22/2012

Can't wait to see this in action!


annita said 12/20/2012



KM45 said 12/19/2012

Great idea, check out Barkley Advertising's building in Kansas City (the old TWA Headquarters with a decked out 25,000 sq ft rooftop deck/garden). I am sure there are plenty of creative agencies downtown that would benefit from allowing their employees "garden" a bit over lunch!


hwynder said 12/19/2012

Mary this is a great project and you are just the person to see it done well. With your background in urban gardening and architecture this won't be some half thought out idea that lasts for one season and fizzles the next. I have no doubt that if there are any problems you will persevere and succeed. Have you thought about where to put the next two or three.


Finny said 12/19/2012

Wonderful idea! All that unused space that is a heat trap finally going toward something meaningful and productive. With food deserts, food efficiency modules, and best practice for urban sustainable agriculture, this would be such a gift to the community. For all the bashers - how about we only comment on issues where we are educated, yeah? If you don't like it, don't vote for it, and positively support the one that you do like. If you have an educated recommendation, then why not kindly send it to the designer. The unconstructive banter below doesn't serve anyone.


Aida said 12/19/2012

It's a lovely project that will require a lot of committed voluntary workers but hey, it will be a nice place to hang out and get some produce going, away from traffic and heavy metals. And it will bring people in to garden that wouldn't otherwise get involved so... go for it! And make sure the fence is high and sturdy enough to keep kids safe up there!

Keith Jacobs

Keith Jacobs said 12/17/2012

Why are we farming on a roof??? Is this anymore than a popularity contest??? Tons of these exist on ground level, now you want people to carry all their stuff to a roof? Why?

Tim Cooney

Tim Cooney said 12/17/2012

Just want to say I think FOOD ROOF is a great idea, sorry for other people on this site. I'm definitely not trying trying to bash any ideas on here. Good Luck, and happy voting!


vindeiselfan68 said 12/17/2012

Sorry, this is the real Vindeiselfan69, that other person is a hacker, and a fool. I think that this is a great project. Although my allegiances are with Project Blacktop, I would never say that such a cool idea is riddled by the idea of eating "poop and pee-pee." I hope that both this and Project Blacktop get their ideas realized.


letsgorams said 12/17/2012

@RedBird2011 Let's not point fingers at anybody. I doubt the person behind the idea of Project Blacktop would be dumb enough to do this. There's no need for it.


RedBird2011 said 12/17/2012

I saw the same guy on the Blacktop BB courts page promoting his idea, slamming others, shame on him.

joe O

joe O said 12/16/2012

Chuck Norris scarecrow Vindiesel69, already thought of that. Seriously?


vindeiselfan69 said 12/16/2012

Food roof is pretty unreasonable. What about all the birds who eat stuff on top of roofs? I think that the increasing bird population is not only a problem in the USA, but also in our beloved St. Louis. What are you going to do, but up bird feeders next to all of the gardens on the roof? Thats a huge expense that I bet you didn't account for. Will you use premium bird-feed, or just the cheap stuff? I bet if you only use the cheap stuff the birds will get pretty hungry and eat the stuff from the gardens. How about bird feces and urine? That will get in the food. Do you really want to have people eat poop and pee pee? Seems to me like your idea is to spread Avian Flu to St. Louis. Besides my fears above, this looks pretty cool...especially the wood stuff

Morgan Ruppel

Morgan Ruppel said 12/15/2012

I am so glad that I found this article through Local Harvest. I would love to help anyway I can.


monicamj said 12/13/2012

Will be so awesome for STL!

Chip Crawford

Chip Crawford said 12/12/2012

Awesome idea and presentation...but most love your!


StacyA said 12/12/2012

Great job on the news! Thanks to all who came here as a result. Come back tomorrow! And the day after! And the day after that.....


StacyA said 12/12/2012

Great job on the news! Thanks to all who came here as a result. Come back tomorrow! And the day after! And the day after that.....


Sara said 12/11/2012

YEY Mary!!!

Mary Ostafi

Mary Ostafi said 12/11/2012

very close - 1 block N of Wash Ave on 14th!


zhlindberg said 12/11/2012

Please be close to 16th and Wash Ave!


FT13 said 12/11/2012

Can you please clarify 'emission-free salad'? How are you hauling multiple tons of soil to the rooftop?

Marcus Dowd

Marcus Dowd said 12/11/2012

or you could just do solar panels on the roofs to duplicate the other desired benefits, and then use the LRA properties to avoid the unnecessary extra expenses of putting a garden on a roof. City museum is better known for everything but the roof, and that was only added recently. Also, if part of the purpose is to provide locally grown food to restaurants how do we provide them anything during the winter? Our climate may have more warm days then cold ones, but we still have fairly cold winter making it difficult to grow most commonly used vegetables and fruits. Making this a seasonal item. There could also be an issue with wind. we do tend to get a lot of tornado warnings, and those storms would destroy a rooftop farm. Sorry, don't mean to be so negative, and I do like the idea of having a couple of gardens/farms in the downtown area. I just think the roof makes it challenge.

Joseph o

Joseph o said 12/6/2012

Good question; the reality is there are no affordable vacant lots in all of central downtown which have close proximity to residential life, including LRA's. For this, the agricultural model is not commercially viable at the pedestrian level. Across the region, roof tops have vastly been relegated to mechanical equipment, but can have a higher return on their investment, and not to mention in dense urban environments sunlight is much more abundant the higher up you go. I mean what would the City Museum be if their rooftop experience was on the ground? That said, rooftop farms and green roofs also reduce heat island effect, they contribute to storm water management, reduce the buildings energy consumption and therefore leads to an increase in air quality. Green roofs have been utilized around the world for decades for these reasons, it only makes sense to take it one step further and "produce" something for the community?


RandeH2 said 12/6/2012

Why not just use any of the myriad of empty lots that surround STL? Plenty of LRA propertioes out there and you wouldn't incur the additional costs of transport to the roof, bringing in soil, additional structure (support or otherwise). The wow factor is cool and all, but seems to be trying too hard.