Rooftop Vegetable Farming Club in Japan (Google / The Rooftop Gardening Source)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Rooftop Vegetable Farming Club in Setagaya, Japan

The “field,” which is 20 meters wide and 250 meters long, consists of 300 plots that cover 6 square meters each. The project became possible after the Odakyu Line was relocated underground, freeing up a new “rooftop” space. Agris Seijo is no run-of-the-mill vegetable garden. Members of the urban gardening club pay an annual fee of 136,500 yen, for which they are given access to showers, a clubhouse with a lounge, gardening tools imported from Britain and rubber boots manufactured by a French outdoor goods brand. Fertilizer and other chemicals are also on hand. Members can attend a variety of vegetable-themed lectures on topics as diverse as: baking cakes and confections with vegetables, and the art of vegetable carving. Those too busy to make it to the garden for an extended period of time can pay extra to get someone to tend their crops. An all-inclusive special membership package, which covers this service, costs 525,000 yen annually. Continue reading Rooftop Vegetable Farming Club in Japan (Google / The Rooftop Gardening Source)

GREENSPAN(TM) DESIGNS Ltd. / GARDEN CUBE (TM) : container gardening

A message from Dr. Mahendra SHAH :

“I wish to bring to your attention a container gardening system that we developed in the late 1980s. The original concept came from my experience of working for the United Nations during the 1984-85 Sub-Saharan African famine…how to grow vegetables with poor soil and little water.

During 1990 to 2000 we focused on marketing this system to beautify urban areas in developed countries. We believe there is great scope for vegetable production in stacked containers…we are interested to market our system for vegetable growing as well as beautifying urban city centers and building roof tops.

I am the owner of Greenspan Designs and currently have little time to market this proven system. If you know of any one experienced who would be interested to work with us market our system, please advise.

Please review our systems at

Best regards,

Dr. Mahendra Shah”


On the website above I found a description of GARDEN CUBE : Continue reading GREENSPAN(TM) DESIGNS Ltd. / GARDEN CUBE (TM) : container gardening

Growing Vegetables on City Rooftops (Bruce F / Daily Kos)

Having the pleasure to republish Bruce FIELDS’ interesting article, I can only recommend the visitors of my blog to read it with full attention. It is FANTASTIC !

Read at : Daily Kos

Growing Vegetables on City Rooftops

by Bruce F

Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:39:46 PM PDT

Crazy? Maybe, but we’re doing it.

At the end of this post is a guide full of relevant links showing how you can do this yourself. We’ve also told our story using pictures at this Flickr page. Next to those pictures are similar instructions on how to do this .

Our experience has shown that this process has other benefits, namely that it builds connections in a fragmented social/political landscape. If you’re trying to organize people, it’s got a lot of potential. A big selling point is that it is something that can be done by individuals. You don’t need to appeal for funding, attend planning meetings, or hire a budget busting number of “professionals”.

If nothing else, you’ll get some great tomatoes out of it.

In cities, most people can’t garden because of scarce resources. The biggest being lack of arable land. Other limits are money, knowledge, time, and desire.

If you’ve got the interest, we can show you how to inexpensively grow vegetables using fewer inputs and in less time, wherever you happen to be. I’ll be honest and say that nothing we’re doing is all that novel. The individual “technologies” are there for anyone to put together. We want more people to do just that and have been posting our results to blogs with that in mind.

Ok, so what exactly are we talking about? Continue reading Growing Vegetables on City Rooftops (Bruce F / Daily Kos)

Family gardens, school gardens and urban gardening against the actual food crisis (Willem)

Family gardens, school gardens and urban gardening against the actual food crisis

Drought is described as a very important environmental constraint, limiting plant growth and food production. The World Food Program (WFP) has recently indicated drought in Australia as one of the major factors for the difficulty to deliver food aid to millions of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Drought is seen as the force driving up wheat and rice prices, which contributes directly to food shortage, social unrest and disturbances at the global level. Therefore, mitigating drought and limiting water consumption seems to be essential factors for resolving the actual food crisis and to find long-term solutions to malnutrition, hunger and famine, particularly in the drylands.

Application of water stocking soil conditioners, keeping the soil moistened with a minimum of irrigation water, and seeding or planting more drought tolerant species and varieties will definitely contribute to solve the food crisis. Scientists in China and the USA have recently discovered important genetic information about drought tolerance of plants. It was thereby shown that drought tolerant mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana have a more extensive root system than the wild types, with deeper roots and more lateral roots, and show a reduced leaf stomatal density. My own research work on the soil conditioning compound TerraCottem has led to similar conclusions : treatment with this soil conditioner induced enhancement of the root system with a higher number of lateral roots. More roots means more root tips and thus a higher number of water absorbing root hairs, sitting close to the root meristem. As a result, plants with more roots can better explore the soil and find the smallest water quantities in a relatively dry soil.

As the world’s population is growing by about 78 million people a year, it affects life on this earth in a very dramatic way. Droughts have caused a rise of food prices many times before, but the present situation is quite different, because it is based on specific trends and facts : the faster growing world population and a definite change in international food consumption trends and habits.

Some experts claim that “major investments to boost world food output will keep shortages down to the malnutrition level in some of the world’s poorer nations“, and that “improving farm infrastructure and technological boosts to farm yields can create a lot of small green revolutions, particularly in Africa”.

It seems quite difficult to believe that “major investments to boost the food output” will be able to “keep the food shortages down to the malnutrition level“, wherever in this world. Indeed, the world’s most famous research institutes have already developed very effective technologies to boost food production in the most adverse conditions of serious drought and salinity. Yet, not one single organization has ever decided, up to now, to use “major investments” to apply such technologies in large-scale programs, which would most certainly change the food situation in the world’s poorest nations.

It seems also difficult to believe that “improving farm infrastructure and technological boosts to farm yields” will be able to create “small green revolutions, particularly in Africa”. It is not by improving a farm’s infrastructure that one will manage drought. Although a number of technological solutions to boost farm yields have already been developed, only those tackling the drought problems are an option to create significant changes.

I do not believe that such changes can be realized at the level of large-scale farms. On the contrary, I am convinced that application of cost-effective, soil conditioning methods to enhance the water retention capacity of the soil and to boost biomass production in the drylands, is the best solution to help the poor rural people to avoid malnutrition and hunger, giving them a “fresh” start with a daily portion of “fresh vegetables”. These rural people, forming the group most affected by the food crisis, do not need to play a role in boosting the world’s food production. They simply need to produce enough food for their own family (“to fill their own hungry stomach“). Application of cost-effective technologies should therefore be programmed at the level of small-scale “family gardens” or “school gardens” and not at the scale of huge (industrial) farms, where return on investment is always the key factor for survival of the business.

Preferentially, major investments to boost the food output in the drylands should be employed to improve food production in family gardens and school gardens, in order to offer all rural people an opportunity to produce more and better food, vegetables and fruits, full of vitamins and mineral elements, mostly for their own family members or kids, partly for the local market.

Splendid examples of long-term combating food shortage with family gardens can be seen since 2006 in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria (UNICEF project). One can only hope that such a success story will soon be duplicated in many similar situations, where hungry people wait for similar innovative and well-conceived practices, with a remarkable return on investment, laying solid foundations for further sustainable development.

Recently, a number of initiatives have been taken to enhance urban gardening space, not only with allotment gardens, but also with “guerilla gardening” and transformation of open, underused spaces into small-scale garden plots for downtown dwellers, apartment dwellers and even for university students like those at the McGill University in Montreal. Many poor urban people are very keen on harvesting their own crops in such small gardens or applying container gardening on balconies, terraces, rooftops or other unused open spaces. Support for urban agriculture or urban gardening can be seen as a priority for decision-makers to reverse the world’s food crisis.

Food aid, be it with billions of dollars, can only be very effective if priority is given to local food production for the poor rural or urban people, who can not afford to buy the expensive commercial food products in shops or supermarkets. Small-scale family gardens, school gardens, allotment gardens and urban gardens in unused open spaces should be our strategic counter-attack against the actual food crisis.

Crosslinking blogs on desertification and gardening (Google / Concrete Gardening / Willem)

Already posted on my desertification blog

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

I’m not alone out here in gardenless gardening land!

Starting this blog has been such an awesome experience for me. I’m not even sure how some people have found my blog, or how exactly I found their blogs, but I’ve found some truly inspirational stuff out there in the blogosphere. Here are some of my best finds:

Container Gardening – An entire blog devoted to the nitty gritty of growing in containers. How tos included, as well as an up-to-date cross referencing section of other blogs/articles. (My blog is on there! How neat!) The author brings to the blog a background knowledge of desertification & poverty, which is an interesting backdrop for container gardening. (With my undergrad in sociology and urban studies, this really makes me think, “RAD!”)

Sky Vegetables – These guys are creating large scale roof farms on top of supermarkets. The produce is picked, and delivered downstairs to the store. Talk about LOCAL! They’re putting together an internet resource for all things related to roof gardening. Truely inspirational. It makes me want to get involved in more than just my roof. Any other Philadelphians out there want to transform some serious roofs?

The Root – This is a blogging friend I found… I have no idea how I found her, but I just love her blog. A few days ago she posted about her attempts to transform a plain plastic planter into a copper-esk superstar. I despise the look of my plastic containers, but lets face it – on a roof – you have to hold the water in somehow! This weekend I’ll try my own transformation project. Who says function can’t be pretty? Thanks for the inspiration Kate.



I submitted the following comment, which is actually under moderation

Thanks for crosslinking our blogs. As a consultant for desertification and sustainable development matters, I am interested in ways and means to help the poor rural people in the drylands to grow food the easiest and cheapest way. Drought, lack of moisture and nutrients in the soil, erosion problems, lack of seeds, poverty etc. made me think of small space gardening (family gardens) and container gardening (plastic or PET bottles, yoghurt pots) as good solutions to tackle the primary needs of those people. Nowadays, I am collecting seeds of tropical fruits (melon, watermelon, pumpkin, papaya, avocado, …), which are generally thrown in the garbage bin in our Western countries. I would like to create an international network for this way of “recycling” the seeds of crops. Who wants to cooperate ?

New homeowner without a garden (Google / Concrete Gardening)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Tales of a new homeowner without a garden

I realize I’ve been quite slack on the blog front, but I also just bought a house (without a garden) and my days have been spent unpacking, walking around saying “I can’t believe this is ours,” and finding interesting quirks about our new abode. (Such as – after five minutes in the shower the water turns lukewarm. Great for water conservation I guess. Bah Bum.) The first night we took a crash course in garbage disposal design when we learned that our dishwasher wasn’t draining. (It’s amazing what you can do with the help of online forums, a hammer, and a screw driver.)

Now we’re settling in, using the dishwasher (heavenly after three years of hand washing dishes), and it’s really starting to feel like home.  (Even though we have no furniture on the third floor. We might leave it like that for a while – it makes for an awesome yoga room.  Minimal design to the max!)

The street is phenomenal. The neighbors are ridiculously nice. Our next door neighbor said “It’s like a mature college dorm, without the shared bathrooms.” And it really is. Everyone knows everyone. Kids play in the street after work. People hangout their second story windows to chat. Neighbors drink wine on their stoops on Friday nights. It’s what city living is supposed to be about. All the neighbors say the same thing, “You’ve bought on the best block in Philly.”

And most importantly – I’m doing OK without my in-the-ground-garden. We get full sun to our kitchen window, so I have a herb garden growing right on the window sill. (And I’ve used it heaps!) Our tiny alley gets full sun, so I’ve converted an old birdhouse I made with my dad when I was a kid into a petunia basket to hang on the fence. (I love petunias. Yes, they’re everywhere, but they’re so damn cheery!) Our front stoop has been adorned with potted plants. (Once we start to build our finances back up, we hope to put in a more permanent, raised flower bed.)

Another fantastic aspect of this house is that my indoor garden will thrive. In our old apartment we had one tiny window that received sun. I crammed as many houseplants in that window as humanly possible. My friends used to say it looked like a mini-jungle. Now I have a few large windows that get baked with sunlight. My houseplant space has quadrupled. (I’m also going to start making use of indoor hanging houseplants. More on that later.)

The roof deck is blasted by the sun all day.


Urban Gardening (Google / Technocrat)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Urban Gardening

zogger Thu, 17 Apr 2008

Or what to do when you don’t even have a suburban backyard. Many city dwellers are pleased to find out they can still garden, even in apartments or townhomes with patios or small front yards-even an accessible flat roof.

..””We wanted to reconnect people living in cities with food,” explains Mayfield, a support worker for disabled and dyslexic children. “You don’t have to own acres of countryside in Essex like Jamie Oliver to grow your own vegetables – anyone can do it using pretty much any old space.””..more there and I love this subject, used to do it all the time for myself, and designed and built a lot of smallish “edible landscaping” projects for people who didn’t have much space for the more conventional and sort of plain big plowed up square type of garden. You can grow a decent amount in an earthbox, large pots, cement blocks with the holes showing up and filled with dirt and arranged down the side of the walkway, etc. Just use your imagination, it is quite possible to use all the little nooks and crannies of sunny space you have to get some greens and herbs and tomatoes and peppers going. And don’t forget sprouts! Fastest way to an edible and nutritious crop there is. Continue reading Urban Gardening (Google / Technocrat)

Living roof survives drought (Google / NZ Herald)

Read at : Google Alert – drought

Living roof survives drought, wins awards

By Angela Gregory

A “green roof” on top of the Waitakere City Council has withstood the long dry summer and even picked up a couple of awards for promoting sustainability. The roof of native grasses and other plants was installed in 2006 on the newly-built civic centre in Henderson. The council’s parks planning manager, Renee Davies, said she believed it was the first extensive green roof using native plants to be established on a purpose-built commercial building in New Zealand. A waterproof membrane had been laid over the concrete surface and covered with a root barrier and light substrate.

Mrs Davies said at the time of the planting in the 2006 winter, the vegetation cover was 15 per cent. It had spread to 27 per cent by the end of the year and was now 63 per cent.

The plants had performed well over the unusually dry summer with no irrigation. The native iceplant and the native sand Convolvulus had bewen the species most resistant to drought.

Mrs Davies said the roof supported a surprisingly diverse fauna. Ants and spiders had settled there, which raised the prospect of releasing lizards.

The roof had cost about $190 a metre which was comparable to the price of carpet.

Mayor Bob Harvey said he was delighted the roof had won two awards from the Institute of Landscape Architects, for communication and promotion and excellence for sustainability.