Why growing vegetables on the roof is the future of Toronto architecture

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Why growing vegetables on the roof is the future of Toronto architecture

Green roofs are nice, but rooftop farms are better.

They’re the future of living architecture, say international green roof advocates who gathered in Toronto last week.

Traditional green roofs reduce energy consumption by keeping buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, and they also absorb rainwater instead of sending it into storm sewers. For this alone, they have become official policy in Toronto.

But rooftop agriculture — or agritecture — does all this while also providing jobs, generating electricity, training youth and of course, growing food.

“Toronto is a leader in North America for green infrastructure — not only green roofs, but community gardens. This is about putting those two ideas together,” said Steven Peck, president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, which hosted the two-day Grey to Green conference.

“We have a handful of agricultural green roofs and all of them are community projects,” like Eastdale Collegiate, Ryerson’s Engineering building and the Carrot Common, said Peck. “But we don’t have any commercial-scale agriculture on roofs — that’s the next thing.”

Last month, Toronto was recognized as North America’s second best city for building green roofs, with only Washington D.C. building faster. []