The walls of NYC's Umbrella House have so many stories to tell, and now the roof of the former squat at 21 Avenue C will have a special one of its own with the installation of a flourishing rooftop garden. Since 1988, many people down on their luck have rebuilt their lives inside the Lower East Side building. So it seems only fitting that residents of the building, which was turned into a limited-equity co-op years ago, have converted the barren concrete that tops it into a lush vegetable and herb farm.
In 2012, residents began working with sustainable architect Paul Castrucci to plan out the 820-square-foot garden. Preparing the roo top for such an ambitious project included installing structural steel framing and concrete planking to build the raised 8” planting beds. Additionally, the plan included a stormwater management strategy that will hopefully serve as an example for future urban gardens across the city. The total construction cost of the garden came to $150,000.
In its first growing season, the garden proved to be bountiful by producing a host of veggies and herbs such as swiss chard, broccoli, white onions, eggplant, okra, spinach, zucchini, basil, sugar snap peas, jalapeno peppers, lamb’s quarters, and several varieties of tomatoes. The garden also has a medicinal plant section with hyssop, lemon balm, chamomile, calendula, and passion flower.
Images via Umbrella House Website