A bustling Upper West Side K-8 public school (known lovingly in the Five Boroughs as a “PS”) is entering the history books in early November with a first-of-its-kind roof. This rooftop classroom/science lab is kitted out as a fully functioning hydroponic farm fueled by tilapia (fish) waste and irrigated by two giant rain-collecting containers. It is enclosed in a 1440 square foot greenhouse that is capable of producing up to 8,000 pounds of produce per year! This state-of-the-art, soil-free farm is temperature controlled by a sophisticated computer system that automates many tasks, including opening and closing panels in the glass roof for the comfort of the people, fish and plants in this rooftop green house.
PS 333’s science lab in the sky is modeled after a similar greenhouse-enclosed hydroponic farm built on a traveling barge, currently docked in Yonkers and open to the public free of charge. Two years ago, Sidsel Robards and Manuela Zamora, two mover-and-shaker parents at PS 333, were inspired by the floating science barge and determined to build one on the roof of their childrens’ school.
Plans for the hydroponic produce may include a school lobby farm stand where parents can drop off their children and pick up the freshest veggies possible for tonight’s locavore dinner. Kudos to the innovators at PS 333 for showing us that it is possible to simply LOOK UP and see where your dinner grows. Stay tuned for more on this unique roof farm once it opens in early November.
In the meantime, I’ve got an appointment later this week with an artist who has created several roof gardens in the West Village. I can hardly wait to see them and share what treasures await with you.