By Jay Fidell
Governor Neil Abercrombie brought his wife Nancie Caraway to the ThinkTech-HVCA Kakaako Arising program at the Plaza Club on March 22nd. They stayed and participated in the program through the end, and that was a big part of the magic of it. It became a kind of salon on Kakaako, and one of our best programs.
While the Governor was making his opening remarks, Nancie came up to the podium and whispered something to him. A moment later he said we should not forget to include “green roofs” on the roofs of Kakaako. This reference to urban gardening was oft repeated and became a thread in the program.
Actually, there’s already an urban garden growing in Kakaako, atop the CompUSA building there. It comes in the form of black bags of soil on the roof, out of which gardens grow. Although with the plans for redevelopment the used car lot at the CompUSA building won’t be there that much longer, that rooftop is a beginning and perhaps a symbol for rooftop gardening in the area, and elsewhere
Kakaako is a perfect place for Nancie’s suggestion. The air is clear, the sun is tropical, the rainfall is right (although rooftop gardens can be watered very easily), and there aren’t many bugs or natural enemies on the roof. All you need is access to the rooftop so you can tend your garden. It’s nutritious, fun and not very difficult, what with the many kits and supplies you can buy on the internet to get you started.
You can buy supplements for the soil, seeds, watering lines, and that’s all you need. The cost is minimal, and so is the work. Everyone with access to a flat roof can do it, and if we all do it we can have a more sustainable city with fresh do-it-yourself fruits and vegetables supplied from above. Like the old Shirokawa Inn at Waihino near Naalehu, restaurants can send their guests out for to pick desert. What a wonderful touch for the new Kakaako now in coming.
BrightFarms, the first hydroponic rooftop greenhouse company, is growing in Brooklyn. This makes New York a model for urban agriculture and a center for the entrepreneurial food movement. BrightFarms designs, finances, builds and manages rooftop greenhouses to sell to food retailers. Its greenhouses are designed to produce lettuce, greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. It uses no land, 95% less water, no chemical pesticides and a drastically reduced carbon footprint. What’s not to like about that?
We can do exactly the same thing here, or very likely better. Our legacy is rich in agriculture, so let’s get started and show them our stuff. Thanks for coming to the program, Nancie. It’s a great idea.