Three stories above Division Street in Wicker Park sits an anomaly in urban agriculture: a 5,000 square foot prairie growing on a roof.
In a cutting edge collaboration between Omni Ecosystems, The Roof Crop, Urban Habitat Chicago, Studio Gang Architects and Baker Miller, more than 60 pounds of wheat grain from the field was harvested, threshed, milled, and baked, demonstrating that green roofs can support more than veggies!
Michael Repkin, Ecological Designer for Omni Ecosystems notes, "For 10,000 years, civilization has been growing wheat, but we're taking it to new heights; it’s an important advancement in addressing food security issues in urban areas,” and Studio Gang founding principal is a fan of Omni’s systems. “With nearly fifty species planted on top of a historic building, our mini prairie functions more as a thriving ecosystem than a green roof, creating food and habitat for birds, butterflies, insects, fungi, and now people.”
The wheat was hand harvested by Omni and The Roof Crop, before it was threshed and winnowed by the youth working on-site this summer through Urban Habitat Chicago, providing a hands on learning experience for more than 25 students.
Baker Miller completed the story by milling the hard red winter wheat into a high grade pastry flour. The students presented Mayor Rahm Emanuel with a pound of the flour on his recent visit to The Roof Crop and Baker Miller used it to bake one heck of a chocolate chip cookie for the Open House later the same day.
We hope to continue the tradition on a yearly basis so check in summer 2017 for the next harvest!!