Farm Profile: The Roof Crop
This urban farm is reaching new heights with a savvy green solution: growing food and flowers on roof tops.
The Roof Crop was founded in 2013 by Molly Meyer and Tracy Boychuk during a residential project. The two recognized in each other a love of “greening” the urban environment and joined forces to create a partnership between their companies, Omni Ecosystems and Runner Collective.
While Omni Ecosystems manages the installation, growth and harvesting of each roof top farm; Runner Collective runs its’ marketing, branding, and sales. Their warehouse is just 10 minutes away from our studio; 1516 W Carroll houses their offices and showcases this system.
With three plantable areas, The Roof Crop is abundant with florals and produce, including cantaloupes, raspberries, apple trees, kale, squash, wheat, tomatoes, peppers, quinoa, and more–allowing them to sell to consumers in the neighborhood and notable local restaurants and vendors, including Momotero, Cellar Door Provisions, The Publican, and Flowers for Dreams of course!
Founding Creative and Business Director of Runner Collective, Tracy Boychuk, gave us further details on how you too can enjoy from a farm upstairs.
“By planting on roofs we can have the eco-benefits of the prairies and meadows of 200 years ago and not give up our condos!”
Q. Why should we start farming on roofs? What are some benefits you’ve noticed? Besides all of the fresh produce and flowers of course!
Green roofs are an amazing benefit to urban environments. Not only are they beautiful, but they create oxygen and clean the air, reduce heat island effects and help manage storm water run off. Even a small roof like an initial 6500 sf planting has benefits to the building. During this summer’s heat wave when the outdoor temperatures were reaching 100+ temps, we had a much lower 77 degree temp in the warehouse that is NOT air conditioned! The warehouse is the part of the building that sits under the green roof.
Q. How many urban farms can we find throughout Chicago?
Chicago is an urban agriculture haven right now and there so many different kinds of growing systems to look out for. You can’t get more local than right here and the savings in carbon footprint on delivery is remarkable. Just google for one in your neighborhood – you’ll be surprised – there are at least 50!
Q. Where can we purchase TRC produce?
You can find TRC produce at the South Loop Farmers Market on Thursdays 4-8 pm until Sept 29th. After that (and now) anyone can email us and be put on our weekly harvest lists, order and pick up. We’ll deliver if you are within ten blocks.
You can also find some items at The Green Grocer and we had one placement earlier this year at Local Foods; whenever you eat at Bites Asian Tapas and Sushi, Momotaro, The Publican, Spoke and Bird and a few other places around town. Last season we picked until the end of January. The roof system doesn’t freeze so our season is a bit longer, even without covering. We had chards and kales and lettuces, turnips and beets, and yes even some edible flowers are still growing!
Q. We hear you make edible florals and bouquets! How do you incorporate flowers into your meals or drinks?
We love using perilla in cocktails. It pairs beautifully with basil and gin. Take any favorite cocktail recipe and add a floral to kick it up a notch. Recently Latch Catering created an olive oil cake with whipped cream and topped it with grilled peaches and nasturtium flowers. It was unexpected and really beautiful!
To learn more about The Roof Crop or farm on your very own roof, visit their site at http://theroofcropllc.myshopify.com.
Photography provided by TRC & Hannah Hoggatt.