Despite the many social advantages and economic opportunities of urban agriculture, and more specifically roof agriculture, we notice that the increase of such projects is still difficult. Possible thresholds are high uncertainty (in terms of budget, management model, cultivation plan, etc.), a lack of practical knowledge and insufficient cross-sector collaboration.
With the ROOF FOOD project, we want to examine how we can lower these barriers by working on four objectives.
First, we want to gain more insight into circular roof agriculture on our own roof garden in Gentbrugge.
Secondly, we examined how roof gardens can best be put on the market. What are suitable (business) models for roof agriculture and what are the preconditions for success? And how can we convince property owners and project developers of the added value of a roof garden on their project?
Thirdly, we wanted to test the learning lessons from the above objectives in a new pilot project: a collective stand garden at De Nieuwe Dokken in Ghent.
Finally, we tested a series of innovative concepts to test our roof garden in Gentbrugge against economic reality: short-chain catering, roof dinners, lectures and tours.
ROOF FOOD cvba
PartnersInnec, ILVO (Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en Voedingsonderzoek), ProNatura vzw
On our roof garden in Gentbrugge, we conducted extensive research into the productivity and efficiency in terms of crop protection, cultivation plan, substrate to be used, irrigation, etc. A new job as a roof farmer was also created.
We discovered what the best working commercial and non-commercial models are for a roof garden and what the necessary preconditions are.
Through our project, nice collaborations between the real estate sector, the nature and agriculture sector and the social sector were created.
The project has a series of ecological benefits: a significant increase in bird and bee populations on the roof, more biodiversity, a cooling and air-purifying effect ...
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
A roof garden has a certain microclimate. The wind and heat in summer are the biggest challenges. It is important to make clear choices in function of the roof in order to achieve a strong cultivation plan.
In an urban context, there is little to be gained from producing vegetables alone. Urban agriculture therefore requires creative entrepreneurship by focusing on self-managing communities or on a high positioning in the value chain.
In order to remove uncertainty from customers and partners, a clear process divided into small simple steps is essential.
ROOF FOOD is now fulfilling a strong exemplary function by winning awards, via lectures and webinars, training courses on urban farming, contacts with the press and researchers, etc. A roof garden has become a familiar concept and we are seeing increasing interest from 'traditional' project developers.
3designing 'edible roofs'
260Varieties on a roof garden
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Currently, we are looking into the best way to further expand the ROOF FOOD project in cooperation with partners.
In addition to the expansion of our roof garden in Gentbrugge for 20 community gardeners, we also want to focus on two new projects in 2021: a collective city vegetable garden 'De Dokkerij' for and by the neighbourhood (Ghent) and the greening of paved city squares in an innovative way (Berchem).