Low cost, low technology, lightweight methods to produce food on rooftops and other locations above the ground.

Introduction

As this is being written, food riots in Port-au-Prince, Haiti are making the news. Food riots and demonstrations are starting to occur in other cities in other impoverished countries around the world. Some food producing countries are banning or restricting exports on important food staples. Leaders have little control over the high prices of food, but are desperate to know what can be done to make more food available, at a lower price.

Quite aside from these problems, there has been a growing interest in urban food production in both economically developed and developing countries. Reasons are many. Ecological benefits to the city. A desire to use more locally grown food. Opportunities for micro farming activities for profit. The wholesomeness of allowing people to experience the joy of gardening. Producing food by or for families who cannot buy what they need.

Several large cities even have some impressive rooftop gardens on large buildings. Rooftop gardening is the primary use that we have in mind for the technologies described in this book.

There is a major difference between ECHO’s techniques and those used on or contemplated by planners for most rooftop gardens in wealthier countries.

The techniques that I will describe can be done at a fraction of the expense that is normally considered necessary. They do not require specially engineered buildings to make sure that the roof can handle the weight of the soil. Gardens can even be grown on the edge of a tin roof of a shanty.