A Berkeley company called Sky Vegetables says the sky is the limit when it comes to local food. Their business is farming the rooftops of grocery stores. They plan to harvest ripe vegetables and sell them downstairs in the supermarket, eliminating up to 80% of the cost of production and distribution. The model calls for constructing these sustainable hydroponic greenhouses so that they are in use all year round.
Founder Keith Agoada, 22, saw a growing demand for fresh, affordable, and nutritious produce by consumers and decided that the economic potential for local food production on a commercial scale, such as Sky Vegetables' model, is an idea whose time is ripe.
"While Sky Vegetables' business model is for the rooftops of supermarkets, since that's what our current research supports, there's no reason the Sky Vegetables urban garden concept couldn't work successfully on the rooftop of any structure, and grow to include other markets. Any business that is interested in serving or selling the finest, freshest, locally-grown produce is a natural fit.” - Agoada
The pilot program is being launched in the Bay Area and Sky Vegetables plans to have the first unit operating and ready for harvest by fall of 2009.
Sky Vegetables also hosted a summit of industry-leaders from around the world at a first-ever Building-Integrated Sustainable Agriculture (B-ISA) Summit in December and expressed their goal of developing a draft-design of an open source rooftop farm prototype. They gathered ideas from the disciplines of architecture, controlled environment greenhouses, composting, alternative energy, aquaculture, hydroponics, sustainable farming, water economics, urban agriculture, and green business, trying to develop a strong network of support.
If you dig what they're doing, head over to Sky Vegetables and contact them. Tell 'em we sent ya.