Planting a Rooftop Forest Garden


Image credit: Permaculture Magazine

I recently posted some great videos on how to grow food in a forest garden—a type of garden design that mimics early-stage natural woodlands by utilizing a diversity of useful plants, focusing on largely perennial food crops, and growing in several "storeys", including canopy, shrubs and understorey plants. We have, of course, also posted on rooftop gardens and even rooftop farms. But what about a rooftop forest garden? Surely that's just taking it one step too far.

Not according to one activist group in Reading, England. Back in 2003, Permaculture Magazine explored how RISC (Reading International Solidarity Center) created a rooftop forest garden as a means to grow food for its cafe, provide composting facilities, establish a meeting space, and offer educational opportunities about food growing; the role of plants in human culture and politics; and clean energy generation.

Complete with a decking area, wind turbines, solar panels, a perennial forest garden and an area for annual vegetable growing, the garden's 30cm of soil also provides soundproofing for the conference hall and concert space below. But it is probably the careful combination of horticulture, cultural expression and political perspective that mark it out from other demonstration gardens:

You can find everything from Japanese mountain banana, Musa basjoo, to globe artichokes, Cynara scolymus, and forage for produce as you walk round. Informative labels and accom-panying workshops will also explore the development context in which plants have been reappro-priated through processes such as colonialisation, global economics and agricultural policies, biotechnology through to intellectual property rights. There is an information display area in the middle of the garden at the point where the stone path meets the southern wall.

Nine years since its creation, RISC is now hosting a day-long event on forest gardening and its role in transforming our food systems. Bookings are being taken now via the Sector39 permaculture design company, and you can learn more about the whole project at the Reading International Solidarity Center website.

More on Forest and Rooftop Gardening
Growing Food in a Forest Garden (Video)
Could Rooftop Gardens Alleviate the Middle East Food Crisis?
Milwaukee's First Rooftop CSA

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