FarmRoof® today began installation of a 38,000 square foot, USDA certified organic farm on the roof of Auto Mart USA at 604 Ala Moana Boulevard. The farm is the first urban rooftop farm in Hawai‘i and FarmRoof’s largest.
The installation was marked with a Hawaiian blessing by Kahu Curt Kekuna of Kawaiaha‘o Church, who joined with FarmRoof founder Alan Joaquin in planting the first seeds in the rooftop farm. Kahu Kekuna remarked, “Today we are planting the seeds for a new Hawaii.”
The lease agreement between FarmRoof and Auto Mart USA was brokered by Kamehameha Schools, which owns the Kaka‘ako parcel. “From our first meeting with FarmRoof, we recognized a synergy in our efforts,” said Kamehameha Schools’ senior asset manager Christian O’Connor. “Alan is exactly the kind of entrepreneur that Kamehameha wants to see in Kaka‘ako. His product is innovative, green and local.”
The rooftop farm will supply the community, retailers and chefs with an assortment of delicious, healthy, and nutrient-dense crops such as heirloom kale, arugula and mustard greens. FarmRoof’s proprietary ultra lightweight soil is infused with more than 70 minerals, trace elements, micro-nutrients, and billions of indigenous microorganisms (IMOs), making for a nutritional value much higher than a typical salad.
According to Joaquin, the FarmRoof system offers a 10:1 production gain over a conventional farm and will be ready to harvest in as little as three weeks. Additionally, the FarmRoof system uses 90 percent less water than conventional farming, and can be powered by a single 9-volt battery.
Joaquin is particularly excited about the sustainability the system offers for Hawaii (and the world). Citing the per capita consumption of loose leaf lettuce at 11 lbs. per year, he said, “If even 25 percent of the available flat rooftops in Kakaako, Honolulu and Waikiki had FarmRoofs installed, we could grow enough loose leaf lettuce to feed every man, woman and child in Hawaii, with Zero Food Miles.” Currently Hawaii imports approximately 85 percent of its food, which travels an average 4,500 miles to get here.
The farm will also save energy. Because rooftop farms absorb solar radiation and insulate and cool the host building, Auto Mart USA will realize 20 percent energy savings from air conditioning. Other benefits of FarmRoof organic rooftop farming include: stormwater runoff reduction, reduction in the use of fuel to transport food, increased biodiversity, a boost to the local food economy, better environmental stewardship and a more beautiful urban landscape.
Kamehameha is redeveloping 29 acres in Kaka‘ako into an urban neighborhood. In addition to residential and commercial spaces, Kaka‘ako will be a walkable community with a vibrant street scene and unique restaurants and shops.
Based in Waimanalo on the island of O‘ahu, FarmRoof was founded by Alan Joaquin in 2008 and is the world’s first and only USDA certified organic green roof system. FarmRoof utilizes a patented, scalable rooftop agriculture system to design, install and operate rooftop farms throughout the United States and beyond. For information visit www.farmroof.com.
Media contact: Aubrey Hawk, (808) 351-5800, Aubrey@AubreyHawkPR.com