A tale of two tomatoes: the rationale for proximity-based urban farming

Video by Mike Yohay of Cityscape Farms :

(via Shareable magazine who carries a full interview)


“Mike Yohay, the founder and CEO of Cityscape Farms, is on top of the world. Or rather, his business is. This fall, he’ll begin realizing his dream of urban farming- on commercial rooftops. Cityscape Farms’ mission is simple: instead of transporting food hundreds of miles, grow it where it is going to be eaten. Not only would this provide healthier, better tasting produce, it would help make cities cleaner and more self-sufficient. But cities are crowded, right? That’s why Yohay is attempting to capitalize on the unused resource of urban roofs…It’s a move that nets building owners a profit while benefiting the larger community. I spoke to Yohay, just after he was named one of the “Ten Most Inspiring People in Sustainable Food” by Fast Company, about how all this might work.

Allison Arieff: So how did a Brooklyn kid get interested in rooftop farming?

Mike Yohay: Growing up in Brooklyn, rooftops were always one of my favorite places to hang out. I would hop from our building’s rooftop to the next one over, all the way down to the end of the block. I’d see container gardens with herbs and veggies, homing pigeons- really a whole ecosystem up there- all with the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop. Later recognizing what an underutilized resource rooftops are, I saw food production as a logical fit. Why cut down rainforests for farmland when you can grow food right here in the city, where the eaters are?

AA: There’s been a lot of press on vertical farming lately but it still seems either like something relegated to design studios or something straight out of science fiction. Demystify it for us.

MY: It’s largely a conceptual discourse here in the United States because we have the luxury of sticking to the status quo- for now. In other countries, where the cost of oil and availability of water are not hidden externalities, rooftop and urban farming are done out of necessity. Look at Israel, Singapore, Japan and countless others; they’ve been doing vertical farming and rooftop hydroponics for years. The innovation coming out of those countries is my inspiration. So I think folks in the U.S. need to put down the AutoCAD and start building!”

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