Monday, October 13, 2008

Green Roofs and Food Production

After posting a note on using roofs as green roofs mainly for environmnetal benefits, there may be an even greater requirement that combines both environment benefit and the simple need to grow food, within the large world cities that are now developing.

In Asia especially, large urban conglomerations are rampant......cities with many millions of residents, dependent on outside areas for food, and the logistical chains that are needed to bring the food into the area.

I think the classic case is Singapore. Not only are they dependent on non Singaporean sources for food, the residents are now also almost totally divorced from the food production process especially of fresh foods, and people have little knowledge or understanding of horticulture or agriculture.

To add to the comments, Professor Julian Cribb, author of "The Coming Famine", said that Australian cities also needed to be aware of the issues, and the global food crisis was a forewarning of what could be expected as civilisation ran low on water, arable land and nutrients, and experienced soaring energy costs. He said the urban farmers of the future - who would primarily grow vegetables - would play a much larger role in the global diet. "We need new skills in designing this diet and developing the intensive vegetable culture needed to support it," he said. "This intensive urban veggie culture is an entirely new industry and will need a new professional - the urban farmer who can grow food on the roofs and sides of buildings, in intensive biocultures and by other novel methods to feed the megacities of 30 million-plus inhabitants. "If we don't, by 2050 we will have more than three-quarters of the human population - almost 8 billion people - living in places where they are totally without the means or the knowledge of how to feed themselves. "Our giant cities will be gigantic death traps, at the mercy of even quite minor glitches in regional or global food supplies."

In Australia ,The City of Sydney council has commissioned a report to look at ways to encourage the greening of rooftops. A report is expected before Christmas, 2008, which will examine the option of fitting green roofs on older buildings. The council already supports gardens in the city.

"Green roofs would create more open space and enhance bio-diversity," Ms Hoff the Deputy Mayor said. "They will also reduce energy consumption by insulating buildings, reduce stormwater run-off, reduce greenhouse gases and could be practical, too, by growing fruit and vegetables."

Green Roofs Australia executive Jim Osborne, a landscape architect, said councils and governments needed to provide incentives such as greater planning and monetary support for rooftop gardens. The benefits of these gardens had been established overseas but more scientific research examining Australian conditions was needed.

This last issue is critical, especially for tropical Australia. In this region, temperate class plants are usually just wrong to use, and a new group might be needed. Watch this roof space!

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