Food From The Sky Creates Rooftop Gardens in London

London supermarket plants a garden on the roof to promote sustainable fruit and vegetable production in cities.

Katie Calvin
Published on March 16, 2011

A thriving garden of fruits and vegetables in the middle of a city isn't something you come across very often. Thornton Budgens supermarket in North London argues that this shouldn't be so, and is taking steps towards a more sustainable future with produce.

Thornton Budgens along with project leader Azul-Valerie Thome  has created Food From The Sky, a rooftop permaculture garden of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. The ultimate goal of the project is to prove that produce can be grown in cities and sold locally in a manner that is efficient and not wasteful. The grocery store began the project in May 2010 with only 10 tons of compost and 300 recycling boxes, but with care from employees and over 20 volunteers the garden now yields enough produce to sell every Friday. Any fruits or vegetables that are not sold, instead of simply being thrown away at the end of the day, become compost that will enhance the soil for the next batch of produce.

What makes a rooftop garden a great idea? The warmth from the store's heating and lighting systems heat the floor of the roof, preventing the plant seeds from freezing during the colder months, and is free of the slugs and snails that cause pigeons to dig up the soil during vital growth periods. Why didn't we think of this before?

In addition, the grocery store is offering courses about this alternative approach to food production in order to instill the power in others to sustain produce gardens in the city while being conscious of the planet. The Food From The Sky project aims to extend its influence to other supermarkets and be a template for other rooftop permaculture gardens in cities.

"One day, I want to see supermarket roof-gardens all over the country," said Thome.

Published on March 16, 2011 by Katie Calvin
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