Friday, April 23, 2010

Crazy Idea #97: Church Rooftop Vegetable Garden

I've written before that I think people should give more credence to their crazy ideas. Jenny happily pointed out that I didn't mention any of the crazy ideas that I had personally.

She's right, I didn't. And the truth is, I have crazy ideas all the time. Big ones. Expensive ones. So in the hopes of continued marital bliss (read: get my wife off my back), I'm going to post them. Complete with randomly assigned numbers to make you think I have more ideas than I actually do.

Crazy Idea #97: Church Rooftop Vegetable Garden

This is actually part of a much larger crazy idea, but we'll just deal with this one aspect of it. The church rooftop vegetable garden is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It's a vegetable garden, on the roof of a church.

Many newer churches have abandoned the idea of making their building "look" like a church from the outside. So more and more it appears that churches just look like regular buildings, complete with flat roofs. At the very least, their 'extra' buildings other than their main sanctuary/auditorium have the flat roofs. So churches already have a good amount of area that is currently being unused.

So what do you do with all this extra space? Multi-tasking it as a playground for the children's area is pretty out of the question, so why not turn it into a vegetable garden?

Rooftop vegetable gardens are very common, especially in urban areas, and there are all kinds of solutions out there to make one.

For example, Rick Bayless (arguably one of the best chefs in the country) has about 100 Earthboxes on the roof of his Chicago restaurant that he grows produce and herbs in. They're a quick, easy solution to rooftop gardening, but can be expensive. There are plenty of other ways to go about making a rooftop garden that you can find on these interwebs. Including just putting some railroad ties & dirt on the roof. Or maybe those plastic kiddie pools? Bam!

This kind of project could be run by volunteers. You know, the majority of people in a church? But I'm a big fan of organization, scheduling, planning and the like, so it seems kinda natural to me.

What do you do with the veggies?

So you have volunteers working shifts periodically, you're growing produce, what do you do with it? You give it away.
  • Food banks
  • Homeless shelters
  • Soup kitchens (what's a better name for that anyway?)
The church doesn't need to start any of these programs themselves, they can just supply ones that already exist.

There are plenty of other ways to use the food too: distribute it via church events/outreaches, supplement the feeding of volunteers during events (supplementing pizza...obviously), or even just taking bags of produce to local homes or seedy long term motels in the 'bad' parts of town.

Just think about all the space on the roofs of churches. If you had small armies of people willing to put in 1 hour every 2 weeks to grow vegetables for the community...I think that would make a really huge difference pretty fast.