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Rupa and the April Fishes at Half Pint Farms in Vermont with Owner, operator and rockstar herself- Mara Welton
BUILD TOUR - On the Road 

When I first met Rupa Marya I admired her fun nature and fierce activism it would be 8 months later before we would start to fall in love and then she invited me to accompany her band Rupa and the April Fishes for the BUILD Tour, a world tour of their third Studio Album. 
The tour was  16 weeks and included  52 shows in over 9 countries. I was a farmer to go on the road and I decided to conduct a seed sharing event at every show. I gathered some educational materials and blank packets,  a few books and brought some seeds with me.  It was actually hundreds of thousands of seeds all organized and labeled in a suitcase that I would then set up at all the shows along with the merch that the band was selling. 

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The Band rocking out in North Carolina

 
 
Rooftop Farms and Adapted Seeds for Urban Agriculture
We have been involved in building a series of rooftop farms in the East Bay. And now we are launching a crowdfunding campaign with Barnraiser and are asking you to join us in our efforts to build an urban seed farm and facility that will produce climate-adapted seeds and train a new crew of urban farmers.

Our food system has become more and more industrialized and commercialized.and our planet has undergone major climate changes. Today we need more local organic food and less fossil fuels in it.  We are building just that we need a little extra help to get it growing! 

Top Leaf Farms is growing food where people live and our urban adapted seed project will help supply seeds to a new generation of urban farmers. We plan to create a robust catalogue of seeds adapted to the urban environment in order to generate delicious and wholesome food. Our project is designed to create a model of hyper-local food security through the growing, selecting, processing and local distribution of organic heirloom foods and open-pollinated seeds as well as the training of a new kind of farmer--one trained specifically in producing the volume and quality of organic food required in the city.

 
 
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Time to begin.   In early September I approached Jonathan Youtt at the PLACE for sustainable living in Oakland, Ca. to ask if he had a space for us to test our system out. Our Berkeley project was being delayed and I wanted to keep TJ busy and use the extra time to learn more about the design we were to install on the 16 roofs. Alot has been tweaked on paper and it was time to begin testing it out. We also switched blenders and wanted to  start growing in the new medium we had developed.  

The space that we were given was the roof of two shipping containers that were 20' long. The space ended up being 276 square feet, after we built the deck and parapet to contain the soil. There was alot of ideas that had been floating around in my head over the last 6 months on how to make a more productive lightweight and affordable system, getting the opportunity to do a test run at PLACE has been invaluable. 

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Built up the area on top of the containers, 10 feet up
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3/4" plywood deck with 2x12 sides

 
 
A green roof project that wants to be a rooftop farm. That sounds cool right? Well in researching this I soon found out that rooftop farming is a very young concept in the green roof industry . Although green roofs began to be designed into buildings over 40 years ago, the incorporation of rooftop gardens for food production have really only taken root in the last decade. Farms like the Brooklyn Grange in NYC being one of the best examples of a large scale food production in a city and on a roof. 
In doing such a project there a number of concerns that immediately come to mind. First on is weight and type of "soil" medium to use. Then comes irrigation, drainage, water use and all the other supportive infrastructure needed.  To address these issues I began to research the companies and manufactures of green roof products as well as talk to the farmers currently farming the roof. I interviewed a number of farmers and acquired samples from over a dozen companies. I soon decided that it was good to start experimenting with some prototype mock ups to test it all out on a small scale before a 11,000 square foot farm was to be built. 
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Frame, growing mix and base
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Drainboard on pallet base
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One side filled and planted

 
 
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It was March of 2013 that I was contacted by Josiah Cain of Sherwood engineers and Design Ecology to consult on a rooftop farming project to be built in Berkeley Ca, just a few blocks from the UC campus. The 72 unit building was in schematic design and the client was excited at the possibility to grow food on the 16 roofs of the residential building. My role was to assess the viability of the farm operation and recommend the type of supportive systems. After a lengthy review from from the city of Berkeley the Client received the go ahead from the city of Berkeley to develop the design for permit submittal in November of 2013.