Skyscraper farming: roof gardens in Beijing, New York, Hong Kong & Montreal

I’ve formerly boasted of my roof terrace garden in Amsterdam – growing and harvesting fresh herbs, salads and berries from spring, through summer, and into the autumn. My roof terrace offers the opportunity to connect to local food production while living in the city. I’m not the only one who enjoys rooftop gardening. Some of the largest and most populous cities around the globe have crafted larger than life roof gardens – in many cases roof farms.

Rooftop gardening (7)

Amsterdam Roof Terrace Garden, images of season 2013

New York, Beijing, Hong Kong and Montreal are doing so and taking the roof terrace garden scene to a whole new level – literally building farms on top of skyscrapers. Some of these are outdoor private gardens, others are community gardens or education centres, and in the case of Montreal, a giant greenhouse for commercial sale on top of warehouse. New York roof gardens have mastered multifunctional urban farming spaces: harvesting vegetables and hosting events, such as Brooklyn Grange. In each case, these gardens or roof farms – whether private or commercial – offer several benefits for their host cities: fresh food, interaction with fellow city dwellers, and green space in a concrete jungle, which in addition to a bit of quiet refuge, urban green space provides habitat that is good for birds, bees and helps to regulate city temperatures (helping to combat the urban heat island effect).

Sure, rooftop farming may not always be the best or only option to feed a city, but it demonstrates the growing variety and creativity associated to the urban agriculture movement – leading to greener and more edible cities. Meanwhile, the roof farm trend is quickly growing; check Popup City for their recent piece on the Top 5 Of The Greatest Urban Rooftop Farms. Some of these gardens have also been featured in short videos or news stories, some of my favorites are below.

New York Farm City:

Hong Kong and Beijing:

News Report: Rooftop farms flourish in space-starved Hong Kong

Rooftop greenhouses in Montreal:



Riga: visualizing wasted space of the car versus the bicycle


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Bicycle transport is touted for its many benefits for cities: improving air quality, providing exercise, saving money or reducing traffic. Equally, cycling can help save something that all cities desperately require more of: space. To visibly display how much space vehicles … Continue reading

The “how to” of becoming an urban cyclist…


Having spent the last 10 years living (or regularly visiting) established or emerging European cycle cities (e.g. Budapest, Basel, Malmö, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Paris) it’s safe to say: bicycling is in my blood. This is not just a European thing. I’ve tested … Continue reading

Paris: The Les Berges public space project, equally impressive a year later


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Last summer I visited Paris’s latest and greatest public space project, Les Berges, located on the banks of the River Seine. I recently returned to Paris and was curious to see how it looks, one year later. Les Berges continues to … Continue reading

Euro-cycling, urban agriculture and an adventure of a lifetime…


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This August I met 3 French agronomy students from Montpellier University cycling through Europe to examine urban agriculture trends and innovations. We met to discuss Amsterdam’s Food Vision and to visit the garden I volunteer in (Curious Finch). While I don’t usually write about travel … Continue reading

Happiness is… a bicycle lane, a bus stop or light rail line close to home.


I love my bicycle: the freedom, the chance to combine fresh air, exercise and transport, the interaction with fellow cyclists and the affordability. Cycling makes me happy… and I’m not the only one. Daily cycling (i.e. consistent exercise) is good for … Continue reading

Amsterdam: Dutch dogs know how to ride…


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I’ve seen just about anything carried on a bicycle in Amsterdam: multiple cases of beer, furniture (including tables or chairs), Christmas trees, strollers, several suitcase balanced on both arms (while still cycling) or a few children distributed for weight balance. I’ve even … Continue reading