These University of Maryland researchers are helping farmers grow crops on urban roofs
Lea-Cox and his team also monitor nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the crops.
By Rina Torchinsky
Sept 5, 2019
Lea-Cox and his team monitor the rainfall, soil temperature and soil moisture on Up Top Acres’ rooftop farms, Grina said. Lea-Cox said he was impressed by the quality of the rooftop produce, which grows across eight farms in Maryland and D.C. The crops are delivered to restaurants downstairs or sold in a community-supported agriculture system.
“There’s like a little bit of Little Italy on the roof down in D.C.,” Lea-Cox said.
Relish Catering, a catering company in North Bethesda, started working with Up Top Acres about a year ago. The company operates about half a mile away from the rooftop farm at Pike and Rose.
The rooftop farm cuts transportation costs for the company, said chef Laura Calderone, since it’s both walkable and bikeable. When she needs ten pounds of pea shoots, for example, she can just load them in her backpack.
“They will literally pick it that morning, and it is going out to our clients that afternoon for the following day,” Calderone said. “Sometimes there are still bugs in it that are moving around, but that’s okay.”
Calderone said Relish Catering has incorporated local rooftop ingredients into salads, salsa verde and tarts, among other dishes.
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