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Green Roofs


Gardening is such a great way to relieve stress and reconnect with nature in the comfort of your own backyard but we’re not in a backyard and this is no ordinary garden. Take gardening to new heights.

Fred Rich is an author, environmentalist and urban farmer who has perfected the art of rooftop gardening. He met with Suzanne at his beautiful 2,000 square foot garden atop the 35th floor of his Manhattan penthouse. While many rooftop gardens are used exclusively to grow smaller plants and flowers, Rich made it his mission to create an outdoor space in which he could cultivate fruits and vegetables. In order to assure the garden’s success, there were several factors that had to be considered. There had to be enough soil for all of the different plants and vegetables to thrive. This was especially true for the eight fruit trees Fred had planted as their roots systems run much deeper than the smaller plants. There also had to be an adequate water supply. For this, Fred uses all recycled water from the building he occupies. He promotes the healthy growth of his plants and trees with a 50/50 mixture of light planting soil mixed nutrient-filled compost, and the results are simply stunning.

Annie Novak is the Director of Growing Chefs, an organization dedicated to offering educational programming in farming, gardening and cooking. In addition to assisting Fred maintain his beautiful outdoor space, Annie also cultivates a rooftop garden of her own. She says she is excited by the prospect of being able to create beautiful oases in the middle of such a bustling metropolitan area like New York. She and Fred believe that at least one third of all the buildings in New York are capable of supporting rooftop gardens as long as the building possesses a roof membrane that is in good shape and is capable of supporting the added weight. “After that, the sky’s the limit,” Annie says.

While Fred certainly gets great enjoyment out of his personal rooftop Eden, he explains that his motivation for creating it runs much deeper than personal satisfaction. He says, “What I wanted to do is inspire people to do what they could with whatever space they had, to let them understand how much food you could grow, how much money you could save.”

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