It’s not easy getting a farm started on the 9th floor rooftop of an NFL stadium. Over the past four months, our Northern California team has been getting soil to the roof, planting rows of herbs, squash and peppers, and adjusting irrigation as temperatures have soared above 100 degrees on our gleaming white rooftop. Since we’ve begun harvesting in August, we’ve pulled over 1,000 pounds of produce off the roof for use in the kitchens that serve the stadium.
In general, we like to have summer gardens planted by Memorial Day…earlier, if possible. Due to scheduling constraints, we didn’t get this garden in until July 1st. That presented a slew of limitations as to what we could grow up there. Luckily, we had potted-up all the crops for the rooftop in 1 gallon containers so they could continue to grow while we waited for construction to be completed. There are risks to this approach: namely, the larger a plant is when you transplant it, the more likely it is to die.
We watched our young plants like they were our kids once they were transplanted, hand-watering every day (in addition to the drip irrigation). As soon as the plants were looking established, we backed off on the water and the garden took off. Twelve hours of direct sun has meant we’ve had bumper crops of shishito peppers, zucchini and tomatoes.
As we head into fall, we are replacing the tomatoes with snow peas, the 49er squash with broccoli and cauliflower, and the Persian cucumbers with scarlet and red Russian kale. In the upcoming weeks, we will be planting some additional kale varieties and edible flowers like calendula, violas, borage and nasturtiums.
Francisco Ayala is a local farmer from San Jose who has worked for edible gardening companies across the state before coming to Farmscape. In addition to farming the 4,000 sq ft project, Francisco will be assisting the 49’ers with their STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Activity and Math) program. Local kids can come out and get involved with the garden and track their crops over the year.
Please stay tuned for more awesome events out of Faithful Farm.