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The Largest Rooftop Farm in the World

Chicago Other

Gotham Greens’ 75k SF rooftop farm in Pullman will be the largest in the world when complete (you'll have to stop bragging about your puny tomato garden), atop Method Products’ new facility, likely the first LEED-Platinum manufacturing plant in its industry. We chatted with Gotham Greens’ CEO, Viraj Puri (left below):


What’s unique about the Chicago market in terms of green building and urban farming?

Chicago has shown tremendous leadership in green building and urban farming over the years, which complements a thriving local food culture. The city was a pioneer in the widespread implementation of vegetated roofs, which play an important role in storm-water management and the urban heat-island effect, amongst other benefits.


What types of commercial properties is urban farming best suited for and where do you see it gaining the most traction?

Most types of properties—industrial (Method's facility, above), residential, retail, educational, institutional—can be utilized to incorporate some sort of urban farming. For commercial scale urban farming larger footprint industrial and manufacturing buildings can allow for greater economies of scale and compliance with regulations. For smaller-scale community and educational applications of urban farming, a greater range of properties may be suitable. We see this as an emerging industry in many parts of the country as consumers increasingly demand and value higher quality, fresher produce grown closer to home.


What types of creative partnerships do you see forming between real estate owners/developers and urban farmers?

One example: In Pullman, the buildings are largely industrial but there is very little access to fresh produce for local residents. Our greenhouse will produce up to one million pounds of fresh, sustainably grown produce annually, which will be distributed through local Chicago retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets, and community groups.

How does Gotham Greens’ rooftop farm change the development process and what are the challenges to getting it off the ground?

Challenges, all surrounding the relative infancy of the asset class, include architecture, engineering, permitting, and logistics.