Taiwan is home to as many rooftops - give or take - as there are farms growing vegetables, fruit and livestock. Throughout Taiwan and it’s handful of large cities it’s very easy to see apartments, schools and factories covered with large and mostly vacant rooftops. More often than not, these rooftops sit dormant with little in the way of constructive use. (To the imaginative eye this may be quite the opposite.) Bubbling away in Taiwan’s extremely hot summer months, these ‘stove-top’ rooftops could probably fry eggs, can certainly warm water up to a respectable temperature for tea and bake tenants directly below in apartment-sized sauna’s. Start the juices and get them flowing for other uses are abound for these unloved and unused spaces. The first idea that springs to mind can feed dozens of children, educate and cool buildings that have been rapidly overtaken by the ‘hmm’ of air conditioners over the joyous sounds of chatter and laughter.
Welcome to the School Rooftop Farm. This idea is not new - but one that is rarely considered and/or used by schools in Taiwan. Folks, I think we’ve got a project in the works and, simultaneously, a fantastic solution to the problems mentioned above. Each and every day schools throughout Taiwan receive truckloads of fresh vegetables to be used in everything from breakfast congee to lunch fried rice and mid-afternoon soup snacks and treats. Just about every kindergarten, elementary, junior and senior high school has a kitchen in which all of these vegetables, fruit and meat are prepared and cooked for hungry students. The trucks pick up these raw ingredients from distributors who, prior to delivery, receive their produce from farms scattered far away from central business and living districts throughout Taiwan. What if there was a better way for schools to receive the ingredients they use daily and forego the added delivery costs and mark up from the current farm-to-distributor-to-consumer model. There would also be the invisible savings that the environment would come to appreciate with minimal to no added inconveniences. In fact, this new economy would be a net benefit for everyone. The benefits would extend far beyond the kitchen and bowl to the classrooms’ whiteboards and students’ collective minds. Let’s delve a little further, shall we?
Locally sown. Locally grown
From personal experience and that of many, many other growers, eating one’s own harvest seems to taste just that little bit better! No, I take that back. A whole lot better! For those who grow their own food there is just something so much more inviting about the very first crunch of a salad or slice of a tomato or that sweet smell of basil that hits your senses. Now, just imagine for a short time what children and teenagers would take away from planting, growing and harvesting the very vegetables and fruit they love to munch on. Just about everyone can take immediate action and grow their very own plants. Think small. Build small. Think big. The world is yours!
Once your front yard setup is built, your patio planters are sprouting, and your rooftop share space harvests feed a building, you're on your way to creating a long-lasting gardening footprint. Co-X Green Works is doing just that with building systems in schools, homes and now restaurants. Size up a space, sketch out a plan, source the inputs, build and plant. It’s easy to do on your own and a whole lot more fun running through the steps with good friends.
Pick out a weekend. Pick up the equipment. Bring some refreshments. Off you go! Contact us to find out more about current projects that Co-X Green Works operates at.
If school’s took the time to design, build and operate (with some help and education from the pros - and Google!) a farm on their property the payback and beyond would grow well into the future. Management and teachers could ‘brag’ about their system to friends, colleagues and other members of the community. Children could spend time learning and discovering all the ins and outs of gardening, the benefits of a healthy diet and everything else that comes with Steps A~Z in farming. Parents, too, would drop their little kiddies off at school knowing that their children are receiving a very healthy breakfast and lunch with the same produce grown just a storey or two away from the kitchen. It’s another case of win-win-win. While some members in the school may voice their concerns about the initial cost, regular maintenance and long-term management of the system, like most other pieces of equipment or setup, a little planning and engagement goes a long way to keeping a system running and producing for years into the future. Co-X Green Works has sourced financing for systems and curriculum from multiple sources - in-house, members of the community and schools. New curricula are being drawn up for young learners and adults alike - interactive, creative, imaginative, and tasty output - fill the pages and classes. This seems all too good to be true…
Co-X Green Works has 2 systems in Taichung City that are fully operational, produce some delicious veg and are growing in size and variety. Co-X, in partnership, is also involved in the design, build and operations of a small number of other systems in Taichung City. If you are thinking about nurturing a system start with some basic research and videos (videos first to whet your appetite!). Then sketch out a system with paper, pencil and ruler. Finally, Make it! Or give us a shout either through FB or Instagram or email or Line or phone.
Have a growlicious time on the farm.