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Hyperlocal Food Hits Big Supermarkets

Project: Whole Foods Market – 17,000 square foot green roof
Location: Lynnfield, MA
Award Winner: Recover Green Roofs, LLC (Design/Build/Maintenance)
Drainage System: American Hydrotech
Nursery: Red Fire Farm
Irrigation: Rain Bird
Maintenance and Harvesting: Green City Growers
Soil Blending: Read Custom Soils & Encendia Biochar
Railing: KeeGuard, Black Locust Lumber

After nearly two years of design collaboration with a team of architects, designers, engineers and horticulture specialists, the complete 17,000 sf rooftop farm on Whole Foods in Lynnfield, MA now supplies the market with thousands of pounds of hyper-local produce each year. The vegetables, herbs and flowers are harvested and maintained by Green City Growers using organic farming practices, and they harvest roughly 10,000 pounds of produce annually.

“I was sitting at a table during the design phase with about a dozen architects and engineers, and they were all telling Whole Foods not to build the rooftop farm. Whole Foods did not falter; finding a solution for every problem and making the rooftop farm a reality. The green roof industry is grateful for visionary clients like Whole Foods who are willing to take risks and invest in new green technologies. Recover is grateful for their business and their leadership.” Mark Winterer, Director of Operation, Recover Green Roofs, LLC

Vegetable plants require supplemental irrigation and fertilization, potentially compromising green roofs’ sortmwater benefits. In order to realize an environmentally sensitive green roof, Revocer worked with American Hydrotech and Encendia Biochar to blend a media that retained more water and nutrients than traditional green roof media. Recover also installed a smart irrigation system which calculates the evaportranspiration rate based on temperature, humidity, wind, maoisture and sunshine; and only irrigates when needed. While vegetable plants require more water than sedum, they also process more water and this rooftop farm benefits from fifty inches of rainfall annually, often rendering the irrigation system unnecessary and keeping huindreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater out of storm drains.

In order to reduce the amount of nutrient runoff coming off the roof, soil quality is closely monitored and organic fertilizers and pesticides are used only when necessary, incorporating as much permaculture as possible.

A live camera feed shows shoppers a view of the rooftop farm in the cafe below and sees a panorama of red tomatoes, yellow zucchini blossoms, purple lavender and orange chrysanthemums, to name a few of the dozens of colorful and delicious vegetables and flowers that feed the store.