Thursday Doors – April 30, 2020

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). 

Urban Commercial Rooftop Farming

Say what now?

I’ll admit that this post is going to be a bit sparse on its main subject which is doors, but I found this so cool that I thought it worth sharing as a doors post all the same.

Last spring we took advantage of an opportunity to do an open-house tour of a Lufa Farms rooftop greenhouse facility in the north-central part of Montreal.

At the time I knew there were a number of commercial greenhouses well outside of the city that grow crops like lettuce, strawberries, and tomatoes year-round. These however use traditional farmland protected from the elements by a huge heated greenhouses in order to produce during the coldest winter months.

The idea behind the Lufa Farms business model is different and very much intriguing: Grow the food right in the city, where the people are, using the otherwise wasted space – that is the flat rooftops of low-rise commercial buildings.

After finding their first suitable building partner in 2010, the founders set out to reinvent what farming for large population centers could be.

Ten years later in the spring of 2020 after several expansions and additional greenhouse builds, Lufa Farms just put the finishing touches on their 5th and biggest greenhouse yet. This new facility will take their growing capacity to over 300,000 square feet – roughly the equivalent of 6 football fields.

So how does it work? How do they make money?

Using an easy to opt-out online subscription, Lufa customers receive a weekly email or text detailing their suggested starter basket for the week, based on what’s ready to be picked in their various greenhouses.

Starting with a value of close to $30.00 subscribers then have several days before their designated chosen delivery day to log into Lufa’s online farmer’s market and customize their basket as they see fit. As long as they maintain a minimum order of $20.00 they can remove products they don’t want or need and add other available products grown either by Lufa or from any one of the hundreds of local food producers they work with.

To cut down on food waste everything grown by Lufa for each order is custom-picked in the late night or early morning only hours before customer’s chosen delivery day, and then delivered fresh several hours later, either to a nearby drop-off point, or for an extra charge straight to the customer’s home.

Let’s take a look in the cucumber greenhouse

Touring one of their greenhouses was an educational experience, and I have to admit that the idea of having fresh cukes, peppers, eggplant, spinach and tomatoes (to name but a few) delivered from only a few miles away when it’s -27 degrees outside in mid-January makes me smile.

Our guide explained that similar concepts are now taking hold in other ‘winter cities’ in North America, most notably New York, Boston, and Chicago.

She pointed out that to keep the weight load down for the building underneath, everything is grown hydroponically, using a closed loop computer-controlled watering and feeding system.

Everything is grown in auto-irrigated PVC trays which weighs a lot less than water-soaked earth

A rail system between the rows allows for simple efficient, picking, pruning, and plant maintenance using special height-adjustable carts.

Each greenhouse is separated into several different climate zones, all automated to provide optimum temperature and humidity conditions for each of the specific crops they grow.

And what about when it’s -27 outside? By capturing and storing passive solar energy, as well as residual heat escaping from the building underneath, these rooftop farms require less than half the energy used by equivalent sized ground level greenhouses.

Parsley anyone?

Before the current lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic, they were assembling and delivering over 10,000 baskets each week to customers all across the Montreal urban community.

Or maybe some fresh chives?

With many non-essential retail businesses they used as drop-off points now forced to shut down temporarily, they have had to scramble to increase capacity for direct to home delivery.

Despite the current challenges, one lesson societies are learning from this pandemic is the importance of food autonomy and not relying too heavily on far-away foreign sources for our food; meaning that the concept of urban rooftop commercial farming in cold weather climates is more than likely here to stay.

To share your Thursday Doors post this week just paste your link in the comments section below so that others can visit and have a look at your door discoveries. Remember: you have until noon eastern North American time on Saturday to add your link.

And while you’re here please do take the time to visit some of the other Thursday Doors posts shared by our contributors. Just click on a few of the links you’ll find in the comments below.

As always, thanks for looking 🙂 

Want to join in on the fun and share your own Thursday Doors post with other door lovers? Then simply add the link to your post in the comments section below.

About Norm 2.0

World’s youngest grumpy old man & heart failure wonder boy. Interests: writing, woodworking, photography, travel, tennis, wine, and I know a bit about power tools.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Photo Challenges, Photography, Thursday Doors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

103 Responses to Thursday Doors – April 30, 2020

  1. joey says:

    This is one of my very favorite things ever. I can remember my mother talking about this sorta thing when I was a very small child, and it has stuck with me. So many benefits to rooftop gardening, from zeroscaping to produce, it all has benefits. Definitely worthy of its own post, Norm.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sartenada says:

    Hello.

    Very interesting post! It seems that world has developed since those days which I have seen. I mean that we have had turf and grass roofs. 🙂 Thank for this post.

    Have a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the info and details here… sharing some doors

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is so cool. My great aunt had told me once that a farmer she knows grows strawberries year-round. She gave me some and they were good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sherry Felix says:

    Very green 🙂 A recent series on H2O covered hydroponics and showed me again how much water we waste.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      That’s so true. Wasted water, wasted food, wasted energy…compared to so many others on the planet we are so spoiled in North America. The older I get the more conscious I become of some of the ingrained wasteful habits I’ve developed without ever even thinking about it.

      Like

  6. This is a cool and educational post, Norm! With climate change at the forefront of important issues countries have to deal with it is a demonstration on how things can be if there is a will for it.

    Here’s my short post for this week: https://undiscoverdimagesamongstus2.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/moroccan-door-and-lantern/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. slfinnell says:

    Oh my! I’d be in that space for hours! Currently proud that I’ve kept my rosemary and basil alive all winter with a grow light.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. amoralegria says:

    Wow, Norm, what an awesome concept! I’ve heard of rooftop farming, but this place takes it to a new and highly practical level! If you know the name of one of these rooftop greenhouse farms in Chicago, please let me know!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks – yes this is a concept to get excited about. Hopefully it takes off all over.
      I know that Gotham Greens operates the biggest rooftop greenhouse in Chicago but they specialize in lettuces and herbs and don’t ship direct to consumers. I`m sure there are others as well. Cheers 🙂

      Like

  9. Tara says:

    That is so cool! If I move to a city, I’ll hope it has one of these. In the meantime, I’ve purchased an in-house growing system for my own lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, and who knows what else. If I learn how to make cheese and yogurt, I’ll never have to go to the store again, with that and food delivery service. Montreal is the coolest, it seems. I won’t see it this year, as planned, but hopefully 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      In the summer I grow a lot of my own veggies in the back yard so it’s easy for me to get excited by concepts like this. Being able to extend the growing season to all year round is something that gets hobbyist gardeners giddy 😀
      Yes I figured a trip up here this year would be off the table now – hopefully 2021 *fingers crossed* 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Cee Neuner says:

    I absolutely adore your post this week. Terrific series of photos 😀
    Here is my entry.
    https://ceenphotography.com/2020/05/01/thursday-doors-april-30-shed-doors/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You opened the door to a great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I wonder if that would also solve the problem of light pollution? The Netherlands are a confusing country for navigating birds because we have too many lighthouses lit up in the dark. Lighthouses on a rooftop would be in areas that are lit anyway. Interesting.

    I’m happy to jump on the Thursday Door train of a Friday (thanks for the flexible hours Norm!). I can finally share a door and mural that I wanted to show you for a long time. Now I had a suitable poem for it. https://unassortedstories.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/blue-ribbon-justice/

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love this! Very innovative and a great use of space.
    I have contributed to your Thursday Doors, Norm, at last. I’ve been meaning to for so long, I actually have a lot of photo’s of doors as I am drawn to them 🙂 Hope you enjoy.
    https://lovingthefiftysomething.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-the-church-of-st-mary-the-virgin/

    Liked by 1 person

  14. lolaWi says:

    what a great idea, Norm. thank you! here’s mine from the archives: https://lolawi.blog/2020/05/01/doors-in-roda-de-isabena/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow, that is fascinating! It’s amazing how innovative people can be if others allow them to turn their vision into reality! Props not only to those who run the gardens but also to the businesses who say “Yes! You can use our rooftop for your garden.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Janis. I can only imagine it must have been quite a leap of faith for that first building owner to say yes: “What’s this now, you want to put a FARM on my roof?” 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a brilliant, happy and yummy post. It makes me wish to personalise my basket right now. 🙂

    My final poem for this April is not as cheerful but it has a happy ending. These doors you might have seen already but I really wish to see them again. For I will return. All well to you!

    https://mexcessive.photo.blog/2020/04/30/day-30-thursday-doors-the-return-of-the-doors/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      It is fun. We don’t order often because we’re only two at home but they have so many local supplier partners now that specialize in natural and organic products, it’s never a problem to put together a big enough basket to fill their minimum order requirements.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. That is really a great idea

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Incredible idea. I hope it spreads! Thanks, Norm, for sharing this.

    Here’s my door post from Venice. (https://brendasrandomthoughts.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-venice/)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. What a great idea for growing food. Here are my doors for this week.
    https://linsdoodles.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-30th-april/

    Like

  20. DrJunieper says:

    Excellent idea for winter cities! Fun to see that the veggies are doing so well. Don’t worry about the sparseness of door. The interesting factor of this project makes up double for it:)
    https://wp.me/p9EWyp-1Vb

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Timothy says:

    A late edition… been saving up these doors for something. 🙂

    https://timothyjhammons.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-april-30-2020/

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Photographias says:

    Excellent idea!
    Here’s mine for this week:
    https://photographias.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-alentejo/

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Marla says:

    This is absolutely brilliant. Love it!

    My door is, surprise surprise, in Paris. It’s a funny one this week.
    https://marlaonthemove.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-paris-8/

    Liked by 1 person

  24. dennyho says:

    My Thursday Door offer for today! Love this farming concept Norm. Especially because the deer cannot invade these spaces! http://dennyho.blog/2020/04/30/thursday-weathered-doors/

    Liked by 1 person

  25. That’s a very interesting concept. I hope this epidemic starts to shorten supply chains, and this could be a model. Shorter supply chains could be better for carbon, if we also move to battery operated vehicles for short distances.

    Here’s my door of the day (after a deep dive into the archives) https://anotherglobaleater.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/fontainhas-panjim/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Yes this is so true. Shorter supply chains are better for the environment. One thing I forgot to mention in my post is that they do most of their local deliveries using electric vehicles too.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. It is an open door to a new way of life.
    This week I have been to Iceland…
    https://apetcher.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-the-elf-houses-of-iceland/

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I absolutely love the concept of Urban Roof Farming. Lot’s of older buildings that hav suitable rooftops.

    Well I;m going for some interior space with my doors this week at the Evans School in downtown Denver. Soon to become office suites:
    https://myvintagecamerasblog.com/2020/04/30/evans-school-denver/

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Nothing to do with roof-top farming but my door for this week is in an area of London called Chalk Farm. It ceased to be an actual farm in the 1840’s when the area was ‘redeveloped’. It is now a housing estate and a firmly established part of the urban sprawl of the capital. https://theartblogger54.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/street-art-by-atm-6-long-eared-owl/

    Liked by 1 person

  29. marianallen says:

    This is fabulous! And a unique take on the Thursday Doors theme. Rooftop urban farming is a brilliant idea! My post today is also a twofer, with a book review in addition to doors. https://marianallen.com/2020/04/hurreh-hurreh-hurreh-step-right-up-bookreview-thursdaydoors/

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Debbie Smyth says:

    Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for giving us a good news post, Norm.
    I haven’t, I’m afraid – one pretty image but not such a happy message to accompany it. https://travelwithintent.com/2020/04/30/sadly-the-doors-are-closed/

    Liked by 1 person

  31. The concept of a rooftop greenhouse makes so much sense I don’t know why there aren’t more of them!
    In one of my daily walks, I came across this door to a nearby church:
    http://snowbirdofparadise.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-norwood-wesleyan-church/

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Ally Bean says:

    This is brilliant. I love everything about it and your conclusion that we need to focus more on creating our own regional food supply chain. The cucumber greenhouse doors are cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I’ve been interested in rooftop gardens for quite some time, so doors or no doors, I loved this post. The weight of soil is certainly a limiting factor, so the hydroponic part makes lots of sense. I’ve also read about people keeping bees on roofs in urban areas and other cool things.

    My archives tend to all be in France or Philadelphia and even though I’ve been able to take regular walks, I haven’t really taken photos of any doors here yet, so we’re virtually back in France again today. I’m sure you won’t have any problem with translation.

    https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-lost-in-translation/

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Janet. Even the weight of the hydroponic structure eliminates a lot of older buildings as potential host candidates, but when it works it is so cool.

      Like

      • At our house in Cleveland, the garage had a flat roof. But I’m sure the roof wouldn’t have supported all the soil needed to cover it and we didn’t have the money to do it. But I did plant pots of tomatoes, lettuce, and the like there, as no marauding chipmunks or deer could up there and if they could, more power to them!! I would then have filmed them vaulting up there and become wealthy. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  34. Sheree says:

    What a wonderful system!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. John Hric says:

    It is ironic. For years and even to this day cities are taking over agricultural land for ‘development’. Now agriculture is taking over old factories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks John. Ironic perhaps but it’s also kinda cool that we finally figured out how to let the farm to take back that needed footprint and still allow the factory underneath it to operate.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. I love this. I take extra time in the grocery store to look for Canadian greenhouse-grown produce in the dead of winter and will pass up tomatoes and cucumbers for that week if I can’t find any. I hope this is one of the good things to come out of this pandemic – the realization that we can and should grown more of our own food, even in the dead of winter. At my current city abode, I’ve utilized my flat rooftop as a garden, in a very tiny way, and enjoyed it very much. If I was going to stay here, there would have been a little greenhouse in my future.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Deb. We have a flat roof on the garage on our house. I’m honestly not sure it’s structurally capable of supporting the extra weight but I’ve been eyeing it for a while as an ideal location for year-round home vegetable growing. In a few years I may just make that my main post retirement project 😀
      I hear you on being more selective at the grocery store. Between the lettuce contamination scares of the past few years and the current adversarial trade tone coming from the leader of our biggest trading partner, our current motto when grocery shopping is, “If it comes from ‘you-know-where’ just leave it there.” 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for the info and tour, Norm. This is a great idea. My wife has been buying hydroponically grown lettuce for several years. It’s clean, easy to work with and delicious. This is a trend I’d like to see spreading.

    I hope you are well and that you stay well.

    My post – https://nofacilities.com/2020/04/30/signs-of-the-times-thursdaydoors/

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Joanne Sisco says:

    OMG – I love, love, love this!

    I had this vision back in university of locally grown produce available year round in the North from solar powered greenhouses. It was part of a 5-year plan I had written for myself the year I graduated from school. The reality of such a venture slapped me down when dealing with issues like average hours of sunlight during the winter months, and the heating costs using conventional power would be cost-prohibitive … not to mention the sparse population and distances between communities.
    I dusted off the idea about 10 years ago and discussed the viability with the CFO at the company behind the massive greenhouses in Leamington. Our thinking then was still much too conventional.

    This idea however has a great twist and I love it! What are the prices like? Have you subscribed?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Wow Joanne I had no idea you had that much interest in such projects, to the point where you even explored viability? Cool! I’d love to hear more about that at some point.
      I think as technology advances particularly for lighting and heating, similar ideas will become a lot more viable in the future.
      We fell in love with the concept too, and yes we did subscribe. Being a household of only two we only complete our order once or twice a month.
      Prices are higher, no question. On average I’d say close to 30% more than for non-organic certified produce found in regular super markets. I don’t think it’s a viable/affordable option yet for most young working families. Hopefully as they continue to expand, production costs will drop and they can make their prices more competitive.

      Like

  39. What a stunning greenhouse and a great invention, beautifully captured. Here is my contribution Thursday Doors – April 30, 2020

    Liked by 1 person

  40. scooj says:

    What a remarkable enterprise and so ‘now’. I have an ex-colleague who has developed something very similar in Bristol, although I don’t think he has taken to the rooftops just yet.

    Some archive NYC doors from me this week: https://scooj.org/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-30-april-2020/

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I love this post Norm. Such a great way to produce local food in cities, especially during cold weather. I agree that lessons hopefully are being learned at the moment of how important it is to support local growers and not to rely so much on imported food.
    My post is a bit of a sad one this week. https://jeanreinhardt.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/thursday-doors-cavan-county-museum-10/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Jean. In Canada I can guarantee you A LOT of lessons have been learned. Particularly regarding how much trust and faith we should be putting in our neighbours and trading partners. Regardless of who’s in charge next door, it’s never a bad idea for a society to be self-reliant for basic daily living essentials.

      Liked by 1 person

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