It’s a roof, surely we can’t get much from it?

Roofspace is generally limited and soils are thin, weight allowances are stringent so is there any hope of producing worthwhile amounts of produce from a rooftop? I think there is.

However you cannot think of it as being a rooftop farm because the term “farm” has been devalued by the likes of “Monsanto”, “Archers, Daniel Midland” and “Syngenta” such that many people now see a farm as being:

  • one soil (it’s really just a binder matrix for the agrochemicals)
  • one plant (genetically modified franken-seeds, a patented lifeform. They can sue you if a seed lands in your field)
  • one selection of agro-poisons (ours because we’ve twisted plants around to accept only our poisons)
  • one harvesting machine (you need the machines to work the supply chain and deliver the chemicals)
  • one supply chain (farmer gets 10c on the dollar. This chain has a collar on one end.)
  • one worker (because government subsidies go where the money is and that means no people)
  • one main beneficiary (the Agro Combine)

This type of industrial farming is designed for extensive cultivation (though soil mining might be a better description) and maximum yields (i.e. maximizing the output of only one product) in the near absence of people (labor). It’s capital intensive.  It’s purchased input intensive. It’s destructive and expensive.

Fundamentally, it’s completely the opposite of what we at Rooftop Ecology want to do with roofs. Here at Rooftop Ecology:

  • we believe in many soils, some acid, some alkali, some neutral, some wet, some dry, some with mychorrhizal fungi, some with mushroom mycelium. It’s called biodiversity, the system that allows for our survival.
  • we believe in many plants, because plant communities produce more than the some of their parts (integrated polycultures or plant guilds) and man cannot live on bread alone, and we should share with other lifeforms. They provide services half the time anyway.
  • we don’t believe in putting poisons into the soil, it disrupts the soil food web and kills the fish in your aquaponics tank, besides when I wash my lettuce under the tap to ensure it doesn’t kill me is this really a good idea.
  • we feel a harvesting machine, combine harvester, call it what you will, is a bad idea if you choose the machine you can’t choose community, or biodiversity or soil health.
  • we feel a supply chain is something that is essentially designed to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of powerful interests who act against their communities. Corporate Social Responsibility is worse than military intelligence. The military at least try to be intelligent while Corporations are formed for the sole reason of avoiding responsibility. It’s a scam and no-one should fall for it.
  • we actually like people.  We want people to be involved. We believe in community. We believe in stakeholders rather than stockholders. We want more eyes on the land, a closer connection between people and nature than the bread in a plastic bag on a convenience store shelf.

Now the important part of that rant I just did was the ‘no poisons’ part. You put poisons in an ecosystem it destroys the linkages between organisms and it’s the linkages that make it productive, resilient and just plain healthier.

So here’s some of the things that are possible..

Let’s start with the Black Soldier Fly, it’s like a garbage collector and recycler. It fills the tank that keeps the ecosystem going.

Black Soldier Fly Bin (insects – don’t take kindly to insecticides)

Ultra Fast Waste Processing

Fish Food (they crawl to the fish tank and throw themselves in)

Chitin (believe it or not there is a market)

Housefly Repellent (so they’re our soldiers not disease carriers)

Worm Bin (invertebrates (no backbone)– don’t take kindly to any soil poisons)

Worm Compost (Vermicompost- fertilizer the way the plants want it)

Worm Tea (connects to Self Irrigated Planters SIPs)

Worm Castings (new bin ingredients for ecology expansion)

Worms (Fish and Chicken Food)

Worm Enzymes (made into industrial cleaners)

Fish (chemicals get flushed into the water and your fish float on the surface showing their belly)

Fishmeat

Fish innards (Black Soldier Fly reprocessing)

Fish bones (Korean Natural Farming Input ingredient)

Chickens (chemicals get into the eggs and bones)

Chicken Meat

Eggs

Annual Vegetables

Self Irrigated Planters and Aquaponics beds (all year round in a an unheated greenhouse)

Fruit

Vegetables

Animal Fodder

Fungi (don’t take kindly to fungicides)

Mushrooms (grown in Self Irrigated planters with the plants)

Plant Support Systems (bestows drought/disease/pest protection)

Algae

Removes contaminants from air and water.

Plant and fish food. And for humans too.

Biofuel potential

Spirulina algae http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirulina_%28dietary_supplement%29

Bees

Honey (a whole range of value added products) including honey beer (yum)

Beeswax (a whole range of value added products)

Propolis

Pollen

See FAO document: http://www.fao.org/docrep/w0076e/w0076e11.htm

People

Waste to be recycled

Environmental stewards (increasing biodiversity by augmenting nature)

We make the linkages turn deserts into Edens and make better people of ourselves along the way.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sohI6vnWZmk

The productivity of small polyculture farming systems is enormous, many multiples of what is achievable on a western style industrial farm. The costs are very low because you purchase next to nothing (I am slowly putting the Korean natural farming input production methods on the blog)  – all the inputs come from within the ecology, or are very cheap.

So yes, we can produce worthwhile amounts of food and other products from rooftops. But we can also get other benefits from it – community, infrastructure improvement, heat island amelioration, building environment improvement, AC use reduction, improved water management, waste reprocessing on site. The list goes on and on and on..

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