Turning Concrete Green

Turning Concrete Green

Feature by Julie Kucks | Photos by Will Marks

Going Vertical in the Soil Capital of the World

In an age of genetically modified foods, preservatives, and abundant pesticides that are meant to increase our food options, why is it that peoples’ diets are narrowing? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. Industrial agriculture depletes food’s nutrition through travel time and the need for preservatives and also fosters eating non-organically grown, out of season food. Large-scale agriculture is also responsible for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, potentially lending to global warming. These are serious repercussions. And it is precisely these repercussions that the Lancaster Urban Farming Initiative (LUFI) has set out to revert, right in the heart of the soil capital of the world—Lancaster City.

LUFI is a nonprofit project headed by local business owner Corey Fogarty of Federal Taphouse. Fogarty, who once worked in real estate, has always been passionate about green initiatives and worked on projects to enhance green design within the real estate market. “It’s always been a very close, personal mission of mine to see more sustainable everything, really. I think my kids need a planet to live on and I think we’re really screwing it up right now and we all need to step up and do something about it.”

The idea for the Initiative was brought to Fogarty by Sarah Taggart, a chef at the Federal Taphouse, when she suggested planting a rooftop garden on a location in Lancaster City. Fogarty encouraged Sarah to enlarge the vision, broadcasting a formal call for green initiatives within the city. The Lancaster Urban Farming Initiative was granted 501(c)(3) status this year with a board of nine members and Fogarty acting as president. The non-profit really gained attention in the press recently when Fogarty and his crew received permission from parking authorities to institute rooftop gardens on parking garages around the city, their original target being the 30,000 square foot parking garage connected to Fogarty’s restaurant. This goal has now spread to about five locations around the city that will hopefully house green spaces.

These spaces will implement hydroponic and/or aeroponic systems in both horizontal and vertical greenhouses, a system Fogarty was encouraged to explore by Mayor Rick Gray. Hydroponics is a system of agriculture that submerges plant roots in water mixed with mineral nutrient solutions rather than soil.

For access to the full article, reference page 125 of Issue 40 pdf.