Archive for March, 2016

We are gearing up for GreenCon, the annual Green Building Conference & Expo in Central Pennsylvania! We are excited to see many of our friends and colleagues this Thursday, March 17 at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

The one-day conference kicks off at 7:30 a.m. at the Holland Union Building with the opening of the Expo, which will run until 2 p.m. Stop by our table to learn more about our Terramenta product line, multi-layer engineered soil for planters for professionals who design, specify or install container gardens or larger planters. With three individual systems and years of expertise, we can help you create successful design projects!

Be sure to also check out the great educational sessions in the areas of Community Design, Creative Design, Energy Efficiency, Facility Management and Resilient Design.

It will be a great and informative day. Hope to see you there!

Terramenta Project Shot

 

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We are pleased to announce that our very own Joe DiNorscia has been selected to serve on the US Composting Council (USCC) board! The USCC provides support for the composting industry and organizations involved in the industry, including generators of organic residues, compost producers, policy makers, regulators, professionals and product users. With a focus on a number of different areas including research, training, education, standards and expansion of composting markets, the USCC will gain an experienced and knowledgeable advocate for the industry in Joe.

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Joe DiNorscia, President of Skyland USA

With an extensive background in the green roof, mushroom farming, and composting industries, Joe serves as both President of Skyland USA, provider of rooflite green roof media products, and Supervisor of Laurel Valley Soils, a premier provider of compost and soil products, including custom soil blends. He is excited to join the board of the USCC. “It’s very gratifying to be selected for the USCC board, and I look forward to working with this critically important organization to expand and support the overall industry and USCC members.”

Check out USCC for more information on the organization and its many worthy programs and resources.

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We were so excited to catch up with Annie Novak, Founder and Farmer at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, recently to hear more about her new book! It’s called The Rooftop Growing Guide: How to transform your rooftop into a vegetable garden or farm, and you can buy it now!

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The Rooftop Growing Guide by Annie Novak from Ten Speed Press

A two-year endeavor, the book grew out of Annie’s own experience as a novice green roof farmer in New York and covers a variety of topics important to rooftop farmers, from assessing a rooftop and ways to grow on rooftops to the growing media (our favorite topic!) and business aspects of a rooftop farm.

According to Annie, the book is very comprehensive “because when I first started doing this, I was an experienced ground level grower, but I felt a certain sense of trepidation about taking that information up to a roof.” Through her experience running her own rooftop farm in Brooklyn, she had a great sense of the questions and concerns people who are interested in rooftop farming have, and she hopes “it’s just about giving someone a book that can erase the hesitancy they have about getting growing.”

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Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Photo credit: Annie Novak

The book profiles a number of exciting rooftop farming projects throughout the world. It includes profiles about rooftop farms in Italy, Chicago, LA, and Annie’s own in Brooklyn as well as a number of different business models from farms that are on top of restaurants, on top of schools, and even private gardens. In speaking and visiting different farms, one of the things that Annie found so interesting about the people who run the farms are the “different philosophies for starting what they do, and then ways of committing to continuing to do it.”

No matter how a rooftop farm approaches farming – whether it’s providing food for its local community or having educational and outreach programs like Eagle Street Farm – it’s really about getting people involved in the food they eat. “One of the biggest pleasures of urban farming in general is just seeing people engage in a landscape that allows for conversation they never would have had before, which is just thinking about where food comes from – it’s a step richer and deeper than just going to a farmer’s market,” Annie says.

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Bountiful harvest from a rooftop farm – produce grown in rooflite media

The book also features an entire chapter on soil. As Annie points out, she “prioritized [the section on growing media] because I don’t know that people really realize how deeply important it is to have a high-quality growing media to work with.” The media mix used on farms is critical to providing healthy vegetables and produce, and in her experience, many of the issues that rooftop farms have is related to the media and trying to grow plants in media that won’t support their growth.

And how do rooflite media fit in? “I remember coming on the [rooftop farming] project and saying ‘we need the whole roof to be compost’ – that’s how you start a farm. And it was a really big education for me about how green roof media are mixed,” Annie says. “And it was happening with [rooflite], a company that was really interested in trying to develop a high-quality mix to suit this purpose.”

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Growth Media Installation at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

And we did create a farming mix. rooflite actually developed our intensive ag media product based on our work with Annie and some other rooftop farmers several years ago. And the goal was to create a media that would hold up to rooftop farming and support the plants that need to grow in the media. “It’s a huge deal – you don’t see that often,” Annie says.

She also mentions that because many farms don’t have good media – an example is one in Chicago that was trying to grow vegetables in media that had sand mixed in, which doesn’t work – “you [can] invest a lot of time and money in the wrong thing.” At rooflite, that’s why we meticulously engineer all our media products to be high performing and high quality, to help farmers like Annie do what they love and avoid expensive media mistakes.

So now that the book is done and out, what is Annie hoping people will take away from it? “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into making the book useful and applicable because I really think we can make a big difference in the way we look at our landscape” through rooftop farming. It’s also gratifying for her that the urban farming trend has become a very powerful movement that helps people connect and engage with each other and their food. “I hope that everyone who reads the book ends up experiencing [this movement] – then my job has been done.”

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Lauren Mandel, Skyland USA President Joe DiNorscia and Annie Novak at a recent dinner, celebrating the release of Annie’s book

We agree, Annie! Congratulations! Many thanks to Annie for taking time to talk with us. To find out more about Annie’s book, visit her web site at http://rooftopgrowingguide.com/. To learn more about rooflite growing media and how we can help you create a successful and sustainable farm, visit our web site at http://rooflitesoil.com.

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