Winterize the Rooftop Farm

What is Our Project About?

The main goal of our project is to winterize the rooftop farm. We were inspired by a class trip to Fenway Farms. At the top of this baseball park was a productive green space that allowed for produce to be grown year-round without excess heat from coils. If we could model this system for Brandeis, our own farm could benefit students by providing fresh and local produce during the semester.

Greening the Ivory Tower class visiting Fenway Farms.

We want to implement sturdier cold frames over part of the rooftop farm. This will help extend the fall growing season as well as allow the Farmers’ Club to begin planting earlier in the season. This project will continue the immense benefits of rooftop farms throughout the year. Our project can help create more crops for the multitude of organizations and charities the Brandeis Farmers’ Club currently donates to and create more discussion about local agriculture and food justice. In addition, by producing more crops to sell our project can help the Brandeis Farmers’ Club better sustain its’ monetary needs in the future.

The second goal of our project is to help the rooftop farm run smoother in the summer. By hiring a full-time farm manager, which has been done with BSF funds in the past, the farm will in proper condition for the fall. Without continuous care during the summer, the farm cannot succeed when the school year begins.

This is a photo of Fenway Farms and the structure of their cold frames over crops.

Why is it Needed?

Cold frames can extend the growing season of the rooftop farm and make it more feasible for students to become involved when they are on campus. They can also protect existing plants and bring more conversation to the benefits of rooftop farming and the importance of eating local.

The money for a farm manager is also just as important as the cold frames. If the farm is not properly maintained during the summer, there will be nothing for students to come back to in the fall. The Farmers’ Club already maintains the space during the academic year, and just need some help managing it during one of the most important seasons for a farm when most students are not on campus.

This is a photo of crops growing in the Brandeis rooftop farm.


Environmental Impacts

By winterizing the rooftop farm more crops can be grown throughout colder months of the year. Seeds can be planted earlier in the spring, and Farmers’ Club will have to purchase less “starts” or seedlings from local nurseries. In addition, crops will be able to grow later in the season which can provide fresh produce for local food banks or students on campus. This system creates less dead time for the rooftop farm and helps best utilize the time students are on campus and available to work on the farm. Cold frames do not use electricity or heating coils to heat the plants and therefore are a more sustainable way to extend the growing season. According to the Environmental Protection Agency rooftop farms reduce energy usage through rooftop insulation, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases, improve human health, and increase habitat for species. Hopefully our project will spark new interest in the rooftop farm and start more discussions about local agriculture and our unsustainable food system.

 

(Left): Photo of the Brandeis rooftop farm. (Right): This a photo of the cold frames installed at Fenway Farms. This is what the cold frames would like on the Brandeis rooftop farm as well.

Community Impacts

This grant would allow the Rooftop Farm to operate better during the colder, winter months therefore allowing the community to benefit from a longer season. The Farm has hosted successful events such as FARMal, which also enlisted the help of student musicians and served as a social gathering that also promoted the benefits of the Farm; Farmers Markets which have hosted small, local vendors and connected them to the campus community; and co-op hours where students can come and farm regardless of expertise. Farmers Club has also sold fresh produce in such campus locations as the Shapiro Campus Center and has donated produce to local community charities.


Grace Berry, Charlotte Lang, Anna Sherman