To celebrate Bronx Week, May 12-19, the Bronx Economic Development Corporation sponsored a Green Roofs Tour. Michael Nixon from the Development Office was our worthy guide, explaining the benefits of having a green roof: it keeps buildings warmer in winter, cooler in summer and it reduces energy consumption and heating/electric bills.
So off we went by Bronx Trolley – first to the Bronx Courthouse roof where stepping stones were strategically placed to prevent the plant-filled floor from being walked upon. Next we visited the rooftop of ABC Carpet & Home which gave us a wonderful view of the Bronx River.
The St. Joan of Arc Church roof was divided in two: one half had solar panels, the other half was green – created and maintained by youngsters from the Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. This part of the roof is lush and blooming – with plants, chives and a sea of purple flowers sprouting from the chives.
At Urban Horizons, a progressive low-income apartment building, first we saw an amazing wall sculpture in the lobby: groupings of cars made from the metal of actual cars. On the roof there are separate planting trays of dirt, so residents can grow flowers, vegetables, herbs, or whatever they like.
The West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing has a Grandparent Family Apartment Building. It was specifically built for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. The green roof was designed to be thoroughly enjoyed. There are benches where residents can relax and chat with their neighbors.
Our final stop was magical. We didn’t see a green roof – we saw a greenhouse in the sky. The entire roof of the Arbor House apartment building is actually a commercial greenhouse. It has 4000 square feet devoted to growing fresh produce for the Bronx community. This is the first hydroponic roof top farm in the country, owned and operated by Sky Vegetables.
Although these rooftops aren’t open to the public, the Bronx is bursting at the seams with exciting things to do! To learn more, go to www.ilovethebronx.com or call 718-590-3518.
Photo credit: Karen Bell for Big Apple Greeter