The Living Roof, originally installed by the Borough Presidents office of Staten Island in 2004, sits atop a water filtration building located at the Department of Transportation’s Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Saint George, Staten Island. This building was one of New York City’s first rooftops to utilize the emerging green roof technologies, being explored as an innovative building solution for new and existing urban environments. This waterfront location bestowed the ideal environment for the experimentation and study of what green roofs can provide for a building. During this time New York City was initiating movements towards addressing the cities need for stormwater mitigation, as well as promoting ways to better develop the envelope of the built environment. Unfortunately, the vision for this space fell at the waste-side and the roof has been in a holding pattern.
In the meantime, the green roof industry was rapidly expanding and began to excel in the implementation of these technologies. Quickly the new innovative project at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, became outdated and inefficient. Poor soil choice lead to rapid soil depletion and minimal drainage. On top of drainage issues, the irrigation system was on a water schedule incompatible with the plant choice. Soon the irrigation system was discontinued and the intended plants seized. Quickly, as nature often does, weeds of all species began to overrule the roof, leaving it in a root bound state.
In 2013, in an effort to increase their programs and services on Staten Island, New York Cares partnered with Living Restoration to perform the remediation of the Living Roof. Throughout Summer and Fall of 2013, New York Cares and Living Restoration worked towards the goal of getting the existing rooftop cleared, creating a remediation plan and establishing a better use for the space.
The new plan for the Living Roof allows for over 7,000 sqft of the rooftop space to be used for the production of edibles. Through working with local non-profit organizations, this food will make its way from the Staten Island Ferry rooftop to the tables of the hungry. The remaining vegetative area will be planted with sedums and grasses to maintain the aesthetic appeal of the green roof while edibles are grown and harvested. In addition to the community benefits, given the high foot traffic in the area, the Living Roof will act as a showcase for urban rooftop agriculture.
At the end of 2013, the entire 13,000 sqft roof top was cleared of weeds and debris in preparation for the next growing season. In October, approximately 1200 sqft of garlic was planted to be harvested in Spring. It is our hope that through community partnership the maintenance and food distribution of the Living Roof will allow for multiple seasonal harvests throughout the 2014 growing season.