In the first of its kind, an urban farm program called Roots on the Rooftop has launched atop the Rouses Market in downtown New Orleans. The TowerGardens were designed by Future Growing and AMPS is responsible for the system layout design, system integration, and ongoing management on the farm. The herbs grown will be packaged and sold on the building’s ground floor, including parsley, basil, and cilantro.
Rouses Markets is the first grocer in the country to develop its own aeroponic urban farm on its own rooftop. Managing partner at Rouses, Donny Rouse, said they picked a perfect, beautiful location for this. “The flat rooftop on this store is perfect for urban farming,” says Rouse. “And the view of downtown is postcard-perfect. I imagine we will do a lot of dinners up here on the farm.”
The vertical aeroponic Tower Garden™ uses water rather than soil, and allows you to grow up instead of out. Developed by a former Disney greenhouse manager, and used at Disney, the Chicago O’Hare Airport Eco-Farm, and on the Manhattan rooftop of Bell Book & Candle restaurant, it is proving to be a cutting edge farming technology. His company has aptly named the farm Roots on the Rooftop.
Chef Louis “Jack” Treuting, Rouses Culinary Director, knew Roots on the Rooftop would be a way to provide fresh herbs for the food Rouses chefs prepare, but also saw potential to expand the program to include retail. “I knew if our chefs wanted it, so would our customers.” Treuting worked with New Orleans-based A.M.P.S. on the Rouses system. “Aeroponics makes sense for the space,” said Treuting. “It is lighter than soil-based operations, and the towers recycle water and liquid nutrients through their own reservoirs, so they’re sustainable.”
Roots on the Rooftop will officially launch on May 31st, one day before New Orleans kicks off its second annual Eat Local Challenge. “The locavore challenge is to eat food grown within a 200 mile radius,” says Rouse. “In our case, we’re growing herbs less than 100 feet from our store.”