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Councillor calls for veg gardens on city rooftops

A DUBLIN councillor has proposed that urban farming be taken to "a new level" -- and city rooftops be designed to grow food for families.

Cllr Jane Dillon Byrne (Lab) wants Dubliners to be able to grow lettuce and chives, and even keep hens, on the rooftops of any multi-storey buildings which will be built in future.

She has proposed her radical new idea, which she has seen in the likes of Copenhagen, France, and Germany, in a motion for next Monday's monthly meeting of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCC).

"I'm quite excited about that. We would do something on the roofs of buildings where people have flat roofs. In Copenhagen there were cows and sheep on a building very close to the port and the opera house.

Eggs

"I don't know how they got them up there, but things like hens and having your own eggs, things that are portable would be very easy."

The Dun Laoghaire representative insists that Dublin rooftops are currently wasted spaces, which are only used for water storage or other utilities.

"It's a waste of space if they're not doing anything bar storing a water tank or central heating. I think they should be used to grow things like lettuce and chives, and keep hens.

"Although it might seem a little unusual, there's no reason why it wouldn't work. I think it's a new idea and I'll try to persuade my Labour colleagues about it in a meeting on Friday."

A council spokesman confirmed it is currently formulating a policy on Green Roofs, which includes roof gardens.

"End-users may consider adapting roof gardens for the limited growing of food in the future," she said.

But other councillors have criticised the move as impractical, and unsuitable with regard to the timing.

Cllr Donal Marren said: "I'm not sure it's practical, I really don't think it is. You can get occasional little fruits and herbs grown in boxes but anything which is for feeding families or for the commercial end... the space just isn't there.

"If you're talking about vegetable production on rooftops, I really don't think the sheer space is there, other than for herbs and so on."

And Cllr Cormac Devlin (FF) added: "We've missed the boat with the amount of development that has happened. The vast bulk of it has been built.

Weight

"A proposal like this would be good but it's too late now."

But rooftop farms would be good for the environment, insists Cllr Dillon Byrne.

"It would be something which would be stated in a policy statement in the development plan. It would be a good environmental strategy.

"We could have low standard fruit trees, and have the roof built in a certain way that it could take the weight."

She added that the scheme would have "even more feasibility in the recession" than in times of economic boom.


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