3/9/2016 | By Sarah Borchersen-Keto
As the weather begins to warm, thoughts at Federal Realty Investment Trust’s (NYSE: FRT) Bethesda Row turn toward the development’s roof, where 7,000 square feet of growing space stand ready to cultivate a new crop of salad greens, carrots, herbs and a variety of other produce.
The space atop Bethesda Row’s Equinox Fitness Club, a LEED Gold certified building, was initially constructed with a green, vegetative roof in 2010. The intention was to improve the quality of storm water discharge from the property. The conversion to a rooftop farm was officially launched in September 2015.
Produce grown atop Equinox Fitness can be enjoyed downstairs at Jose Andres’ Jaleo restaurant location in Bethesda, Maryland. Federal Realty highlights the roof-to-dining concept in a new video, which includes an interview with Jaleo’s chef Ramon Martinez on the benefits of hyper-local food sourcing.
Chris Brown, sustainability manager at Federal Realty, said he expects the Bethesda Row rooftop farm to yield about 10,000 pounds of produce in 2016, up from 7,000 pounds last year. The increase in production will allow more restaurants to offer the local produce, he said.
The soil depth allows for a wide variety of produce to be grown, according to Up Top Acres, one of Federal Realty’s partners in the project. Brown explained that having Up Top Acres perform the rooftop gardening saves Federal Realty the costs it used to incur for maintaining the green, vegetative roof.
“The benefit we really enjoy out of it is the enhanced connection with our tenants, but we also save them the money of maintaining the roof by doing things in a slightly better way,” he said.
Brown added that Federal Realty wants to continue its partnership with Up Top Acres by replicating the concept at other sites in the area.