Rooftop Gardens

Rooftop Gardens

29 June, 2017
Top It Off In Green
One man's dream to bring organic farms to Hong Kong's unused rooftops
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Skyscrapers, apartments, offices and hotels. Hong Kong has a dizzying array of buildings left, right and centre. In fact, Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers in the world, topping the list at 1,302—almost double that of New York City. This claustrophobia of vertical space has given birth to a new movement that aims to put food on the city residents' tables.

In one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, Andrew Tsui, founder of Rooftop Republic, sees an opportunity hiding in plain sight. By converting the city’s ‘idling’ rooftops into vegetable farms, his goal is to fill 1,500 acres of the city’s unused rooftops with vegetable gardens and bring the concept of urban farming into the spotlight.

You read that right. It is not your average post-modernist take on creating vertical farms just to suck up all the CO2 in the atmosphere for the sake of Instagram photos. This guy is actually growing edible vegetables you can pluck, chop and eat right on the rooftops of the city’s buildings.

By planting and growing several types of vegetables such as romaine lettuce, kale, okra, cucumbers, spinach and carrots, Rooftop Republic has essentially succeeded in adding much-needed patches of green to our city as well as providing tenants with a supply of fresh produce.

Andrew speaks of adopting a more organic approach to consuming food, owing to the numerous food and health scares emanating from China over the past decade. Cases such as tainted milk, fake rice, dyed green peas, contaminated strawberries and toxic bean sprouts have gripped the nation, leading to more stringent food safety measures. Andrew isn’t taking any chances, adding that because Hong Kong does in fact receive 98% of its produce from the mainland, the general public are able to benefit from the idea of his organic rooftop farms.

His approach to sustainable farming has already gathered momentum, having converted 27 farms and over 26,000 square feet of practically deserted rooftop space into living and breathing farms. In one of their most successful projects with The Fringe Club, he and his team of three converted their once empty rooftop into a full-fledged garden and planted vegetables and herbs such as basil, rosemary, mint and lemon balm, which are now being fully incorporated into the menus at the Fringe bar and restaurant.

In fact, Rooftop Republic's first clients were hotels and restaurants interested in being able to cut costs by having a roof full of grown vegetables to pick from. The company has also converted a decommissioned helipad into a full-blown garden, growing veggies such as Chinese spinach, sweet potatoes, amaranth and radishes 40 storeys above ground.

Now that's innovation.

By: Jeremy Chan
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