Thanks to the hospitality of Paul Richens, who works with Global Generation, I was able to visit a couple of productive rooftop gardens in the Kings Cross / St. Pancras area of London on this hot, sunny day.

DSC_0067 - MOD1 - Maria Fidelis Rooftop Garden - IB 30-7-10


























Maria Fidelis Lower School: View south to BT Tower


The first visit was to the Maria Fidelis Lower School where a small roof garden has been constructed on the flat roof of this four-storey Victorian school building. The scheme is primarily aimed at educating inner city children who have shockingly little understanding of how food is grown, and the children of immigrant families who are often not familiar with traditional British vegetables.

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Maria Fidelis Lower School: Triangular “snow shoe” bed with willow

DSC_0062 - MOD1 - Maria Fidelis Rooftop Garden - IB 30-7-10 Maria Fidelis Lower School: School with railings around flat roof


My second visit was to the larger rooftop garden at brand management company Wolff Olins, developers of the London 2012 logo. This garden was established due to Wolff Olins’ customers asking them about their “green” credentials. Staff have become actively involved with the project, adopting different crops for which they are then responsible for watering, pruning, etc. All of the produce from the roof garden is used on site in the Wolff Olins canteen.

DSC_0080 - MOD1 - Wolf Ollins Rooftop Garden - IB 30-7-10

Wolff Olins, London: View north (over Regents Canal) from the rooftop garden, about 0.25 miles from Kings Cross station.

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Wolff Olins, London: General layout of garden with four rectangular “snow shoe” beds with willow planters.  Rainwater collection into water buts at roof
perimeter wall.

DSC_0090 - MOD1 - Wolff Olins Rooftop Garden - IB 30-7-10

Wolff Olins, London: 12-15” high brush screens provide windshield
for more delicate crops, such as strawberries.

As far as I know this Thornton’s Budgens in Crouch End, London is the first supermarket in the UK to establish an edible roof garden.  The “Food from the Sky” project is a collaborative venture between the supermarket and The Positive Earth Project – Food from the Sky.  

Crouch End Roof Garden

image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturewise/4704479280/

The not-for-profit venture will focus on organic fruit and vegetables with produce being solid in the supermarket; profits are to be reinvested in the garden.  BBC London has a news article and video of the project.

The Thornton’s Budgens website and press releases write that they believe it to be the “worlds first supermarket roof garden”.  Although this may be true for the UK there are certainly similar preexisting examples in several cities in the USA.  Nevertheless, this is an exciting development and a small example of would could be achieved using the vast amount of roof space provided by supermarkets nationally.  An opportunity analysis for the supermarket scenario will be published on this blog in the near future.

My Edible Urban Garden

258-001 - Corner of Urban Garden

Nothing growing directly on the roof as yet but I am experimenting with a number of urban gardening options in the courtyard of my Victorian terraced house in South Yorkshire.  Developments this year include: a 3-tier vertical plot for carrots, salad leaves and herbs; a 2-tier vertical plot for tomatoes and runner beans; growing tomatoes in a converted drainpipe hoisted onto a wall of the house; and my very own guerilla garden plot.  Most of the materials used in the garden have been reclaimed from urban foraging and Freecycle.  I have not used any pesticides; I am relying on companion planting and vigilance to control pests and encourage friendly insects.  See My Edible Urban Garden.

Edible Urban Roofs

Observations, theories and findings from an undergraduate research project investigating the opportunity for food production on the roofs of urban structures.