Gary Rosenberg’s Rooftop Farm


You’d probably never believe Gary Rosenberg’s garden was on a roof top  so I had to prove it with this photo of him climbing up a ladder to it. His Berkeley garden is so densely planted and lush that I was constantly checking my steps to make sure I didn’t walk off the edge. His house didn’t have a backyard and  he wanted to make use of his large flat roof top so he began the rooftop garden back in 1994. First, he made sure the foundation was strong enough to support all the weight. Then he then stripped the old roof down to the structural elements and covered them with thick plywood. He topped it with two layers of modified torch-on, a rubber-like surface that is extremely waterproof and durable. But the mechanics of his garden is really not what it’s all about.

“I don’t teach gardening, I teach civil disobedience,” he  explained, and there’s nothing that bothers him more than our wasteful consumer society. Almost all the containers, building materials, and even plants have been gleaned. He uses solar power, a composting toilet, and recycles the water used to for his plants into a very rich compost tea that he reuses on his plants. He also allows his plants to live their entire lifespans so he can collect the seed from successful plants so they can naturally adapt to the climate. He doesn’t see weeds as a problem, because they are biomass and natural carbon sinks that he eventually add to the compost. The way Gary sees it, if we could redirect the waste stream, improving society would naturally follow.



Collards are allowed to grow over several seasons, he picks leaves as he needs them.


Gary recycles the roof top runoff in barrels that makes a naturally rich compost tea.

Gary has planted over 20 fruit trees along the sidewalk of his Berkeley home.

Gary’s rooftop garden is barely visible from the street because of his densely planted sidewalk garden that contains over 20 fruit trees.


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