Gotham Greens + Method = World’s Largest Rooftop Greenhouse Coming to Chicago
Chicago probably isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of farming, but the city's Pullman Park district will soon be home to the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world. Once construction is complete, the behemoth 75,000 square foot green space, built and operated by Gotham Greens, will be larger than a football stadium and even some city blocks.
— Rimol Greenhouses (@RimolGreenhouse) October 11, 2014
As Business Insider puts it, "For some perspective on the size of the greenhouse: the average size of a city block in many parts of the U.S.—including Portland, Oregon and Houston, Texas—is 67,600 square feet. An NFL football field is 57,600 square feet. This greenhouse is larger than all of these things."
According to Gotham Greens, the greenhouse will produce up to 1 million pounds of sustainably grown, pesticide-free produce annually. The harvest will also be distributed through local retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets and community groups. Since the greens are grown locally, it eliminates the carbon emissions and miles that food traditionally travels to get to Chicago's plates.
"This is an exciting opportunity to bring fresh, healthy produce year-round to Pullman, which is underserved for food, and going through an exciting resurgence in economic development,” Gotham Greens CEO Viraj Puri told DNAInfo. The rooftop farm is also expected to hire 40 workers to help grow the produce, the site reported.
The greenhouse features a slew of innovative farming technologies. With its soil-free hydroponic system, "Gotham Greens' irrigation methods use 20 times less land and 10 times less water and eliminate the need for pesticide use and fertilizer runoff," the company said. A computer-controlled system also regulates temperatures, irrigation needs and other variables, Business Insider noted.
What's interesting is that Chicago's new greenhouse will sit on top of an already environmentally friendly factory occupied by eco-soap company Method. Designed by Cradle to Cradle company William McDonough + Partners, the $30 million building is the nation's first LEED Platinum manufacturing plant in this sector.
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Method's so-called South Side Soapbox, contains a 230-foot wind turbine as well as three 35 x 35-foot solar tracking trees that follows the sun's path to maximize energy generation. According to Business Insider, this clean energy helps generate "a third" of the building's energy needs.
"Gotham Greens shares our goal of using business as a force for social and environmental good," Drew Fraser, CEO of Method, said in the press release. "We are thrilled to partner with a like-minded organization, who has demonstrated that the innovative, adaptive use of urban space can make a significant impact on local communities."
When the greenhouse is finally built, it will also help insulate the building to keep costs down even further, improve urban air quality and reduce stormwater runoff.
"We need to use our urban spaces more efficiently," Method's chief greenskeeper Saskia Van Gendt told Business Insider. "Rooftop greenhouses are a representation of a model of doing that."
Sunday Shenanigans at our rooftop #greenhouse in #Chicago with @methodtweet. #urbanfarming #Pullman #GothamGreens pic.twitter.com/wOHSPi2LQL
— Gotham Greens (@gothamgreens) July 5, 2015
It's a stroke of genius to bring these eco-minded companies together. As EcoWatch previously reported, Gotham Greens now has four state of the art greenhouses where its workers grow organic greens year round. Its flagship greenhouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, was built back in 2010 and was the first commercial scale rooftop greenhouse in the U.S, according to the company. Method, known for its colorfully pleasing soap bottles and for introducing the world's first bottle made of ocean waste, formulates its products with naturally derived, biodegradable ingredients.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel only had nice words to say about the partnership. "Method has been instrumental in supporting the revitalization happening in Pullman, and the addition of this sustainable greenhouse means that more Chicago residents will have access to fresh, healthy foods grown in the neighborhood," Emanuel said in the release. "I commend both Method and Gotham Greens on their commitment to Pullman and look forward to seeing the results of this partnership come to fruition."
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Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
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A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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