Eat Up: New Book for Grid Contributor Lauren Mandel

Eat Up: The Inside Scoop on Rooftop Agriculture

Grid contributor (and Grid Alive guest), blogger, landscape architect and rooftop agriculture expert Lauren Mandel will be launching her new book today. Billed as the first full length book on rooftop agriculture, Eat Up: The Inside Scoop on Rooftop Agriculture, from New Society Publishers, doesn't officially come out until next month, but Lauren will be celebrating with a book launch event from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, April 25, at Good Karma Cafe, 928 Pine St. Good Karma Cafe is also hosting an exhibit of Laurens photography, through June 30, 2013.

Lauren describes the book as "a practitioner’s view of how to turn dreams of rooftop farms and gardens into actual spaces that feed people.  The book provides useful insider information geared toward three scales of production:  rooftop gardens, rooftop farms, and the rooftop agriculture industry."

New Society Publishers, a carbon-neutral publishing house in British Columbia, is releasing Eat Up in Canada and the U.S. For more on the book, visit Lauren's blog,

A blossoming vision for South Philly High School

What would it take to bring neighborhood greening, curriculum opportunities and fresh produce to Philadelphia’s crumbling school system? South Philadelphia High School may have an answer. This morning the high school, in partnership with South Philly’s Lower Moyamensing Civic Association (LoMo), launched a crowd funding campaign to raise more than $26,000 for the development of a campus-wide “Greening” Master Plan and to fund a garden educator position. The plan will lay the groundwork for a rooftop farm and greening improvements that aim to convert the school’s 5.5-acre urban campus into a sustainability poster child. 

In August 2012, LoMo president Kim Massare pitched the ambitious greening initiative to Otis Hackney, principal at South Philly High, and Roofmeadow, a Philadelphia-based design and engineering firm. Together with the school’s garden educator Molly Devinney, the team quickly crafted a strategy for turning the lofty vision into reality. The key? Partnering with a new online platform called Projexity, which uses crowd funding to raise money for neighborhood improvement projects. The goal of Projexity is to provide “a new and better way for anyone – from moms to mayors – to initiate and manage neighborhood improvement projects,” explains Marisa Bernstein, Projexity co-founder and a University of Pennsylvania alumnus.

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Gardening the Skyline: Philly urban agriculture expands to rooftops

story by Lauren Mandel Scanning the puddled, coal tar roof of the SHARE Food Program’s distribution center in North Philadelphia, it’s hard to imagine the expansive space as an active farm. The warehouse sits at the highly trafficked corner of Henry and West Hunting Park Avenues, amidst a tangle of power lines, abandoned buildings and the decommissioned Tastykake factory. But if you were to add a row farm, raised beds and a few greenhouses to the roof, the view might not seem so bad.

Embracing an Ancient Practice

Down on the ground, Philadelphians are enthusiastic about urban agriculture. With a healthy crop of community organizers, food justice advocates and young farming professionals, the city has quickly become a national leader in metropolitan food production. Local trendsetters continue to use diverse urban agricultural techniques, applying them to vacant lots, community garden plots, backyards and balconies. But what about rooftops?

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Grid Alive: The April issue comes to the stage this Thursday

The second Grid Alive is happening this Thursday night and we couldn’t be more excited to hit the stage again. Like before, there will be great guests, live music and local brews, but expect a couple surprises too.

Your hosts Alex Mulcahy, Grid publisher, and Nic Esposito, Philly urban farmer and novelist will be talking with Ron Celentano, a solar PV industry consultant who has found himself deeply involved in the legislative discussion that could kill Pennsylvania’s solar industry. Following him will be Lauren Mandel, a rooftop agriculture specialist with Roofmeadow, who will discuss the possibilities for bringing rooftop agriculture to Philly. We’ll close out the night with a performance by musician Johnny Miles. There will be local beer, cheese and wine from Rolling Barrel, and we’re launching the action table, where we will be featuring The Energy Co-op.

Tickets are on sale now for $5 and available at the door. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 22 at the Trinity Memorial Church (22nd and Spruce Sts.), doors open at 5:30 p.m., show starts at 6:15 p.m. 

CitiesAlive: Annual green roof and wall conference comes to Philadelphia

CitiesAlive, the only conference series in North America dedicated to green roof and wall industries, is in Philadelphia this week. This year’s four-day conference, “Restoring Urban Waters,” hosted by the industry association Green Roofs and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, will look at how green roofs and walls are part of Philadelphia’s plan to revitalize the city’s waters. The conference will feature education sessions, panel discussions, a trade show, demonstrations of the latest science and technologies, as well as tours of the city’s green roofs and walls.   

With so many innovative green projects and programs already underway, Philadelphia was an obvious choice for the 2011 conference. “Philadelphia is one of a few cities in the United States which has decided to rely upon urban greening as the fundamental, if not primary approach to addressing compliance with the Clean Water Act,” says Charlie Miller, founder of Roofscapes (now Roofmeadow), a Philadelphia-based green roof company.  

In addition to the small-scale greening initiatives, like farmer’s markets and composting services, our city features the tallest green building in America (Comcast Center) and Pennsylvania’s largest green roof on an existing building (45,000 square feet at PECO’s Center City headquarters). And then, there’s Green City, Clean Waters, the innovative multi-billion dollar, 25-year plan Philadelphia has adopted to restore water quality within the city.

Along with keynote speakers from Philadelphia’s water and environment sector, the conference will feature specific sessions on the city’s green transformation (December 1) and a case study of PECO’s green roof (December 2). Other highlights include tours of Philadelphia’s green spaces, technical sessions where industry experts will speak on policy, design, and research topics, and an all-day trade show. Green Roof Professional courses will be offered as well as the accreditation exam (separate registration is required). 

Anyone can register to attend the conference and there are several options, including two attendance packages and a student discount. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel (201 N. 17th St.). To register visit the conference website.

- Anna Louise Neiger

Energy: Cooler Heads

For energy savings, cool roofs are a no-brainer 
by Samantha Wittchen

The roof is no longer on fire. First there was the Mayor’s “Coolest Block” Contest, offering Philadelphians the chance to win an energy-saving cool roof and other energy efficiency upgrades from the city for every house on their block. Then there was City Council’s Earth Day passage of Councilman Jim Kenney’s legislation requiring reflective (cool) roofs on all new commercial and residential low-slope roofs.
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Architecture: What is a Green Roof?

by Claire Connelly

Philadelphia continues to receive national recognition for its progressive green initiatives. We’ve been ranked one of the 10 greenest cities in the nation and are making strides towards the top of that list. One notable facet of this citywide greening process is the growing number of green roofs sprouting up on both public and private buildings.
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