Author Archives: Jay

PRooF Featured in August Issue of GRID Magazine

Lauren Mandel, project manager and rooftop agricultural specialist at Roofmeadow, wrote a wonderful piece on PRooF for this month’s issue of GRID Magazine. The article touches a bit on the 51st St. pilot project, and the planter prototypes developed with the Community Design Collaborative. It also mentions our plans to move forward in developing and tailoring these test planters to even more Philadelphia row homes. This phase has already begun! Aside from being held up indoors during the 100 degree weather for the past few weekends, we’re back at it, constructing new ways of reinforcing and moving the planters from roof to roof. We’re also strategizing ways to collaborate with other rooftop farming initiatives, like Cloud 9 Rooftop Farm, to do more prolonged testing and prototyping. Stay tuned for information on Volunteer Days, as well as a Fundraiser Event we hope to have later this summer!

“The Freshest Veggies On The Block!”

Some of you may already know, but for those of you who don’t, Jay Sand, founder of PRooFhas an amazing rooftop veggie garden at his own home. Check out Lauren Mandel’s latest blog post over at EAT UP blog on his garden, and stay tuned for Lauren’s new book on rooftop agriculture!

April 15t: “Meet the Planter” and PROOF meeting

Greetings from the Philadelphia Rooftop Farm! We hope things are going well for you, your family and your community.

We know PROOF may not have been in touch for a while, but after a bit of hibernation we want to reach out again, say hi and let you know we’re getting ready to accomplish some good things in 2012.

This Sunday, April 15th, join PROOF, the Philadelphia Rooftop Farm (, for two friendly and fun happenings to kick off the growing season:

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th, 3pm: “Meet the Planter”–817 South 51st Street (51st near Pentridge in West Philly)
In 2011 Come to West Philadelphia and meet the test planter PROOF built last summer. We’ll introduce you to the elements of the planter and then, if all goes as planned, FINISH MIXING THE GROWING MEDIUM and even PLANT SEEDS and/or SEEDLINGS IN THERE. There’s not much room to work up on the roof where we have the test planter, but we hope, if you want, you’ll be able to get your hands dirty. ** Please RSVP to Alice Edgerton–**

SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 6pm, PROOF MONTHLY MEETING–50th St. and Baltimore Ave.
The first of what is going to be PROOF’s regularly scheduled monthly meetings will take place in West Philadelphia on Sunday, April 15th at 6pm, at the Philadelphia Acupuncture Cooperative, 50th & Baltimore Aves. (top floor, above the Satellite and Dock Street)

. We have a lot of great stuff to do at this meeting! We’re going to do things like:

— develop a system for maintaining our test planter throughout the growing season
— determine the interest in and logistics for an active collaboration with Cloud 9 Rooftop Farm
— start working on the practicalities of recruiting owners with flat rooms for a proposed 5 roof pilot program
— start to plan PROOF events throughout the summer

So, come on Sunday the 15th to meet the planter, and maybe plant it a bit yourself, then be ready for a meeting that will inspire you to share your talents with PROOF and become part of the organization as we start to accomplish great things. See you there!


A nice update to let everyone know PROOF has hired the wonderful Alice Edgerton to work with us throughout the growing season, helping organize this merry band of urban farmers (like herding cats…) into a unified farming force. Welcome Alice!


The Philadelphia Rooftop Farm is hiring!

PROOF, a nascent rooftop farming organization that has great ambitions to transform roofs all over Philadelphia into viable organic farmland, is looking for a responsible, enthusiastic and generally amazing part-time organizer who will work with the PROOF collective throughout the 2012 growing season to help with our upcoming citywide pilot program.

Sound interesting? Read on.


The Philadelphia Rooftop Farm (PROOF,, is a blossoming project that intends to transform Philadelphia’s many flat, under-used rooftops into viable community-supported organic farmland. PROOF’s organizing group, composed of volunteers from around Philadelphia with expertise in farming, building, roofing, architecture, community organizing, etc., has been working for two growing seasons to develop and test viable designs for high yield, highly-efficient self-irrigating planters.

PROOF is looking for a part-time organizer to work with the collective throughout the 2012 growing season to help us take the organization to the next level–from the planning, thinking and “forming” stages to the “we’re farming crops on a whole lot of roofs all over Philadelphia and it’s awesome!” stage. This is a paid position funded through PROOF’s fundraising efforts.

The organizer will work five hours a week for approximately six months to do the following:

— manage PROOF’s ongoing tasks and keep the group on track to meet its goals

— coordinate communication among members of the PROOF collective and between PROOF and its volunteers (maintain PROOF’s blog/web site and e-mail lists)

— help the PROOF collective coordinate our planned 2012 growing season pilot program (working on our crowdfunding campaign, communicating with homeowners, keeping goals and the timeline in order)

— archive PROOF’s working documents and help to draft a “citizen’s manual” to share our knowledge online and on paper.

— seek and apply for grants or work with PROOF on other fund raising, if desired, to extend the position.

If you’re interested please e-mail an introduction BY FEBRUARY 15th to “”. Serious inquiries only.

For more information:
E-mail Jay at “” or call him at 215-913-2679

Things are looking up for rooftop farming in Philly.

I know, I know. Long time no post. Great to see you all again. I hope all you rooftop farmers out there are doing well.

What has PROOF been up to since our last post? Don’t let PROOF’s lack of self-promotion fool you. Over the last several months PROOF has been working hard to lay the groundwork for the proliferation of rooftop agriculture in Philadelphia. We’ve been planning and scheming to embark on a focused pilot project in 2011, growing intensively on one residential rooftop, scientifically documenting everything along the way to learn all we can about building effective planters, picking the right potting mix, choosing the most productive seed varieties, and urging the best yield from our plants. We fully intend to have a great summer.

PROOF is really excited about the possibilities for 2011 and beyond. If you want to be part of the excitement drop Jay a line (jay at

In the meantime, I’ve been told the link to the Community Design Collaborative’s report referenced in our most recent post is hard to find. HERE IT IS. It’s a big report so it may take a while to load up.

Also, check out Phil Forsyth’s inspiring article about rooftop agriculture. At the moment it’s the top post on his blog: Enjoy.

Spring is springing

Hi rooftop farming fans!

Yet another few months have passed between posts. We’re now right smack dab in the middle of spring. PROOF is inching along, making progress bit by bit. By bit.

No, we’re not going to be planting rooftop farms in West Philadelphia this year as part of our proposed “2010 ten roof pilot program” (can we pretend that was a typo and we really meant 2011?) but we’re meeting, planning some test plantings (on the ground) to investigate various potting mixes and scheming about how to build next generation prototype planters.

In early May we met with the team from the Community Design Collaborative and they gave us their final report. It includes detailed sketches of proposed planter designs, great suggestions for how to build the interior of planter boxes and thorough cost estimates, all told in the form of dirty limericks. It’s a great piece of work You can see the non-limerick version here. (the photo on the front page is what I see from my roof each time I go up there to tend my “crops.” Imagine all the farms that could fill those unused rooftops!) At some point I’ll separate out the individual proposed planter designs to make them more easily viewable on the site. This is not that point.

The early summer is going to consist of planter-building and planting experimentation, as well as figuring out how we’re going to address two important issues:

1) getting Philadelphia’s zoning code to be more friendly to rooftop agriculture, and
2) encouraging L&I to redefine what constitutes legal roof access for flat roofs that have rooftop farms.

The second point is a big one. Right now Philadelphia’s building code doesn’t consider access through a roof hatch to be a legal way to get up onto the roof other than for occasional maintenance. In order to create legal access you have to have a dedicated staircase and, if coming up from the interior, a pilot/head house. That’s a huge investment of money and space, and something well beyond the means of most Philadelphia roof owners. We’re trying to figure out a way to get L&I to modify its definition of legal access for roofs that are exclusively used for agriculture. Doing so will open up hundreds of thousands of Philadelphia’s flat roofs to potential planting.

Though the CDC team and most of our efforts so far have focused on residential roofs, we’re also opening up the idea of farming on commercial roofs. When we build our prototype planters we’ll try to create ones that work both residentially and commercially.

If you have any ideas about any of the above or would just like to help PROOF by volunteering your time and/or beer, e-mail me any time at “”.