Crowd-Funded Food Roofs

by: Sara on 04/24/2013
Posted in: Food

This guest post comes to us from Lauren Mandel, Project Manager and Rooftop Agriculture Specialist at Roof Meadow and the author of the just released book, Eat Up, The Inside Scoop on Rooftop Agriculture. Today Lauren highlights South Philadelphia Highschool which launched its fundraising campaign to help realize there dream of a roof top garden.

What if your school served fresh produce, grown just yards away from the cafeteria?  What if that food came from the roof?  This vision is inching toward reality as South Philadelphia High School administrators and local neighborhood representatives collaborate with the Philadelphia-based green roof firm Roofmeadow (where I work) and a hot new online crowd-funding platform called Projexity.

On April 9th South Philadelphia High School launched an online fundraising campaign to raise over $26,000 through micro-donations.  The publicly-sourced contributions will fund a full-time garden educator position and the development of a Greening Master Plan for the school’s 5.5 acre urban campus.  The plan aims to outline the community’s vision for an educational rooftop farm and ground-level greening improvements, which will convert the entire campus into an outdoor classroom.
This blossoming initiative highlights an unmistakable trend in today’s rooftop farming movement: crowd-funding.  South Philadelphia High School represents the third large-scale rooftop farm whose founders seek to finance the project through small donations.  Brooklyn Grange’s flagship 43,000 square foot (1.0 acre) rooftop row farm in Queens, NY was partially funded through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, and Boston’s Higher Ground Farm just completed a similarly successful campaign.  What does this novel financing strategy mean for agriculture?  Well, perhaps we are on a path of independence from high-interest farm loans and corporate buyouts.  Perhaps we are empowered to make a difference, one crowd-sourced dollar at a time.

Photo and rendering by Lauran Mandel

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