Rain is essential for life, but too much of it can lead to flooding, causing sewers to overflow and carry contaminants to nearby river systems.
The city of Washington DC has an innovative way to deal with that.
This rooftop garden on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia includes a variety of vegetation to help absorb excess rainwater and grow food at the same time.
Architect David Bell designed five green roofs on the campus.
And we were really excited about this project, because it started to do something more than just dealing with storm water management.
It took advantage of a resource above the city you see all over where you have these flat roofs that aren’t doing anything, and it really made it something that was about urban agriculture.
Graduate student Caitlim Arlotta says the project is part of a research initiative to see what plants are best suited for rooftop environments both for food as well as pollination.
These are the tomatoes that we’re growing. We have the same experiment running with tomatoes as we do with strawberry, so we’re doing variety trials and we’re trying just to see which variety grows the best in a green roof setting.
In an urban environment, you don’t have maybe all that many spaces to choose from, and so rooftops are just un- utilized space.
So it’s a really good way to not have to restructure your city necessarily, and be able to incorporate green roofs.
Arlotta says that the main goal of the program is to have food justice.
So bringing fresh food into cities where you wouldn’t necessarily have that access.
That includes produce for immigrant members of the community as well.
In the US, it may not seem very common to use hibiscus leaves and sweet potato leaves as food, but in many places around the world it is.
My biggest surprise was that we produce four thousand two hundred and fifty pounds of produce the first year, and was able to disseminate that to people in need.
Sandy Farber Bendier is coordinator of the school’s Master Gardener program.
This is the Future for Food. What we have established here at this college is food, the food hub concept of: You grow it here. You prepare it. You prepare it in a commercial kitchen. You distribute it through farmers markets, food trucks and then you recycle.
While DC is home to one of the largest numbers of green roofs in the country, not all of them are designed to grow food.
David Bill hopes that over time that will change providing a better connection to nature and better fresh food for the city.
Julie Taboh VOA news, Washington.