The future of healthy eating and urban gardening is here – and it starts on your roof
01/30/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
The future of healthy eating and urban gardening is here – and it starts on your roof

Nothing beats eating fresh, nutrient-dense foods when it comes to helping our bodies recover and speeding up the natural healing process.

Being well-aware of that, staff at a hospital in Boston took things to the next level and set up their own rooftop garden in an effort to make the most of fresh foods as medicine for their patients.

In 2017, Boston Medical Center (BMC) set up a 2,658-square-foot garden on the building’s roof terrace so that the hospital’s kitchen and food pantry could have a reliable source of fresh produce. The garden housed some 25 different crop varieties and even had two beehives, making it appear more like a farm than a small garden.

Brighteon.TV

The garden relied on the efforts of one full-time farmer, one part-time assistant, a beekeeper and volunteers to run and maintain it. During its first season, the garden produced more than 5,200 pounds of fresh herbs, leafy green vegetables and fruits.

Researchers from Boston’s Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who did a report on the farm said they found it to be a “unique way of addressing food insecurity … while also providing environmental benefits.”

True enough, doctors at BMC would provide patients at times with “food pantry prescriptions,” which let them visit the pantry to receive fresh produce for free. Staff at the hospital’s kitchen also cooked patients’ meals with fresh foods from the garden. This is worlds away from the usual hospital fare of canned foods and sodas.

So instead of just treating medical problems, it appears that BMC attempts to address the factors that make an individual more susceptible to developing diseases in the first place, such as bad diet and poor nutrition.

The best part? You don’t have to own a huge building or be part of a large establishment capable of running an enormous garden 24/7 to start eating healthily for yourself and for the environment.

Tips for starting a rooftop garden

Rooftop gardening might sound like just another urban gardening trend. But it has been around just as long as roofs. People living in small apartments and urban housing units have been tucking potted plants on roofs, fire escapes and other nooks and crannies for generations.

Besides giving people access to fresh produce, rooftop gardens are great for making productive use of awkward underused spaces. They also help beautify empty spaces, provide privacy and are environmentally friendly.

Here are some tips for starting and caring for your own rooftop garden:

  • Check with the landlord and read up on building codes – Before making a ruckus on the roof, be sure you’ve checked with your landlord first or read up on your area’s building codes.
  • Get a licensed professional to check the roof – The most difficult part of starting a rooftop garden is preparing the foundation. It involves setting down several layers to ensure that no water leaks through the roof and that plants have enough soil for growing. Those layers will put weight on the roof, so try and get a trained professional to check your roof’s structural integrity before starting anything.
  • Consider your options for water access – What are your options for water access? Will you be able to get a hose out on the roof? Is there a spout there for filling up your watering cans? Water isn’t going to be an easy thing to get when you’re high up, so make sure you have it covered.
  • Water your plants more frequently – Rooftop gardens are more exposed to sunlight and heat. This means your plants will dry out faster than they would have in a different type of garden. Keep a close eye on your plants and water whenever the soil gets too dry.
  • Provide ample shade – If you live in a sunny region, your plants may not last long under intense heat and sunlight even if you water them often. Provide as much shade as you see fit.
  • Install fences or screens – Urban housing buildings tend to be surrounded by other buildings. If you feel too exposed, consider growing climbing plants on a fence or trellis to create a “living” screen.
  • Provide storage boxes or shelves – Going back and forth between your apartment and the roof may not be the most efficient way of going about things. Place a storage box or set up shelves on the roof instead so you can easily access your gardening tools, fertilizers, compost, buckets and the like.

Take urban gardening, proper diet and good nutrition to new heights by starting your very own rooftop garden. Besides having access to fresh produce, you get to enjoy your own little slice of nature within a bustling city!

Sources:

ReadyNutrition.com

Reuters.com

TheSpruce.com

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