Before construction began, before 300 tons of soil were hauled up, and before a single seed was sown, the folks at Somerville-based Recover Green Roofs looked long and hard at the structural capacity and safety issues associated with building a rooftop garden atop the new Whole Foods located in Lynnfield’s MarketStreet plaza. After nearly two years of collaboration between architects, designers, engineers, and horticulturists, the garden is in place and fully operational.
Because the store was in the beginning stages of being built, they could plan accordingly. “You should see all the crossing beams when you look up inside the store,” says Whole Foods produce team leader Aaron Ratte. “It’s really impressive.” In fact, the garden would not exist if not for all that structural support. The roof measures 45,000 square feet (close to an acre), more than a third of which is now cultivated.
Designed and installed by Recover Green Roofs and maintained by Green City Growers, also of Somerville, Whole Foods’ new a 17,000-square-foot rooftop farm is expected to yield thousands of pounds of “hyper-local” produce each year. Crops include kale, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, Swiss chard, collard greens, and a medley of herbs.
In addition to supplying the store with the freshest possible produce, the garden insulates the building, thereby lowering heating and cooling costs; decreases storm-water runoff; cuts transportation costs; and lowers greenhouse gas emissions—all of which results in a smaller carbon footprint.
The North Shore is now home to the largest rooftop farm in New England and the first supermarket farm in the country.