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.

We are excited to attend the 2016 NJASLA annual meeting next week in Atlantic City! With a full schedule of educational sessions planned at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, it will be a great three days.

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Photo credit: SortofNatural bit.ly/1WwiHqu

Be sure to stop by the exhibition to learn more about our new product Terramenta: a 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!

You’ll find us on the exhibition floor, open daily starting Sunday, February 21 at noon through Wednesday, February 23 at noon.

Hope to see you there!

Landenberg, PA, February 5, 2016 – Skyland USA today announced that 2015 was a record-breaking year for rooflite®, its green roof media product line, with media shipped to over 350 projects in 25 U.S. states.

Project PicWith the strength and expertise of its strategic blender network across the U.S., rooflite continues to see a rising demand for its growth media. “We are excited that 2015 was a landmark year for our rooflite product line in 2015, as our clients look to ensure the success of their designs with our high-quality media,” said Joe DiNorscia, President of Skyland USA. “In the past ten years, we’ve supplied rooflite to projects in almost every state in the U.S., and we are always gratified to contribute to innovative and unique construction initiatives across the country.”

The biggest increase in demand was centered in Pennsylvania, which had the highest volume of media shipped since the company’s inception. Notable rooflite projects include a number of innovative designs: the new, therapeutic rooftop garden for patients and their families at the Buerger Center for Pediatric Care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia’s first elevated park at Cira Green in University City, and the Capital Rehabilitation and Improvements Program at the Harrisburg State Capitol, which includes the addition of a green roof using rooflite media.

New demand was seen in Colorado, Texas and California, as these regions embrace green roofs featuring rooflite for various building projects. Block 256, the project name for the new, under-construction Hilcorp Energy Tower in Houston, will feature an intensive green roof as part of a rooftop park on the 23-story building. Walnut Creek, California is home to a spiritual order currently building a sanctuary that will include a green roof over the underground portion of this new, tranquil space.

The New York City Metro area, the DC Metro area, and the greater Chicago area also continue to be important markets for rooflite with steady needs for its growth media. The high demand for rooflite in many different U.S. regions brought 2015 to a record-breaking close, and Skyland USA anticipates another year of growth in 2016.

“It’s looking like 2016 will be another year with increased demand for rooflite across the U.S., and we look forward to working with our clients on the critical job of greening our cities through many worthy and inspired projects,” said DiNorscia.

Contact: Joe DiNorscia, 610-268-0017, pr@rooflitesoil.com

About Skyland USA

Skyland USA produces rooflite®, the highest quality green roof media, and offers a full line of lightweight, soilless growing media products, meticulously engineered for a diverse range of green roof applications. With 22 strategically located blending locations within the Americas, the rooflite network provides unparalleled expertise in job site logistics and order fulfillment, along with vast technical knowledge and experience. Dedicated to exceptional customer service, rooflite provides a variety of packaging and delivery options, cost-effective, just-in-time logistics, and continuous monitoring of your project through completion. Visit rooflitesoil.com for more information on our green roof media products.

Philadelphia’s first elevated park, Cira Green on top of Cira Centre South in University City, is now open! The 1.25 acre park, which sits 95 feet above street level, overlooks Center City, University City and the Schuylkill River, and has a unique water storage system beneath the pavers on the roof, which can route storm water to the green roof areas. It’s sure to be a popular and dynamic green space in the city!

We are thrilled to have a part in creating this exciting urban space in Philadelphia. Cira Green consists of different green roof areas, including large lawn areas and planters with trees and colorful perennials – our rooflite® growing media, engineered specifically for the different types of green roofs included in this project, was used to build this unique urban park.

Because of the location of this project, logistics were a particular challenge. We had to solve a number of issues in order to deliver our media to the project:

  • Requirement of 2000 cubic yards of green roof media
  • No staging area to store the material near the construction site
  • Delivery had to occur on a road underneath the construction project with limited space
  • Because of those space limitations, media delivery had to be just in time for installation
  • Delivery had to happen in January in cold temperatures with a blower truck installation

So how did we get over these logistical challenges? As a start, we changed the type of truck we delivered our material in to accommodate the space limitations, and we developed a schedule to deliver the media right when it was needed instead of ahead of time, which is our normal process.

The larger issue was the January timeframe for delivery. Because of cold temperatures and the moisture contained within green roof media, winter can be a tricky time to install media. Fortunately, we are set up with the infrastructure to provide media at any time of the year, even if in cold weather. Our local blender has four acres of concrete, dry storage buildings where dry material can be stockpiled. This means that we can provide our green roof media, capable of being blown onto a rooftop, even in the coldest of months, for projects like CIRA Green.

It’s gratifying to see our hard work pay off with the opening of Cira Green. And you know what? The weather in Philadelphia is so mild this December that it’s a perfect time to check out this exciting new green spot in Philadelphia!

ASLA 2015 is Here!

Just a reminder that ASLA 2015 in Chicago starts today! You can find us at Booth 2243 at the EXPO on Saturday, November 7 and Sunday, November 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Stop by to learn more about our new product Terramenta: a multi-layer engineered soil for planters for professionals who design, specify, or install container gardens or larger planters.

Hope to see you there!

Terramenta Project Shot

We have Chicago on our mind with ASLA 2015 coming up later this week!

So we want to share a Chicago project we were involved in – the Ogden International School of Chicago. Built in 2011, the school features a 20,000 square foot accessible green roof, created with our rooflite® growing media. With more than half the roof vegetated, it features a learning garden and rooftop play space for the elementary age children at the school. We are proud to be a part of this worthy and innovative school project!

Ogden International School of ChicagoBe sure stop by and see rooflite & Terramenta at ASLA 2015. We will be at Booth 2243!

 

The countdown is on! ASLA 2015 in Chicago begins one week from today. We are looking forward to a great four days in the Windy City.

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While we are getting ready for the trip and figuring out which sessions and events we’ll attend, we want to let you know that you can visit us on the EXPO floor during the show. Check us out at Booth 2243! In case you haven’t checked the meeting agenda, the EXPO is open on Saturday, November 7 and Sunday, November 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. We will be featuring our new product Terramenta: a multi-layer engineered soil for planters, so come on out and learn more.

And from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. each day, you can get FREE coffee at the EXPO. You also don’t want to miss the Alumni Tailgate on the EXPO floor on Saturday from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. and the EXPO reception on Sunday from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

We hope to see many of you in Chicago!