Season II Rooftop Farm Begins

It’s time for season two at Cornerstone Rooftop Farm! This micro-farm is making big waves in the local community and is setting a high bar for local foods and edible landscaping. In case you haven’t heard of this project –  Cornerstone Rooftop Farms is a small-scale farm at 76th and Lyndale in Richfield MN located above a mixed use property that houses condos, businesses and restaurants. Partnering with The Cornerstone Group in 2010 Ecological Gardens designed and implemented this rooftop farm (a first for Minnesota). All of the fresh organic heirloom vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are sold to Lucia’s Restaurant in Minneapolis.

This season The Cornerstone Group will be managing on-site operations themselves and Ecological Gardens is a consulting partner for the operation. We met with Lucia’s Restaurant this past winter to identify desired crops and designed a new cropping system. Cornerstone Group hired an urban farmer, Laura Molde, who will be farming all three of their properties that currently have urban agriculture features; Kensington Park/Cornerstone Rooftop Farms, Cedarview and Rivertown Commons.

All of the Cornerstone crops were started this year by Elaine Swenson, Cornerstone’s Director of Asset Management. Elaine has a serious green thumb and family history of growing food – which has come in handy now that she is growing hundreds of plants for the properties she manages. When I asked Elaine how she found time to start a nursery while maintaining her regular job, school, home garden and family farm  – she responded “This is therapy!” Amongst all the chaos, Elaine found peace in busy days by growing these seeds to transplants – a sentiment I can very much empathize with.

Everything was seeded March 17th, Elaine created a nursery in one of the vacant spaces of the building with large west facing windows and grow lights.

Elaine keeps a grow log of all her observations and posts the latest happenings on a white board near the door. She has around 100 followers who stop by to check on the progress. The local community is engaged and learning.

On my visit May 4th, the cole crops were on their last day of hardening off. Urban farmer Laura is now taking over the day-to-day operations and will be planting the cool season crops this week.

Cornerstone plans to sell some of their extra plants at a sidewalk sale mid-May. Make sure to stop by for some high quality, rare variety vegetables.

A new feature on the ground at Kensington Park will be south-facing trellis plants outside Chipotle. The plan is to have rotating pole beans, peas, and morning glories, along with cucumbers, two serving watermelons, nutmeg honeydews and mini cantaloupes. Here’s a view of the newly installed bed and trellis area.

Our next update on Cornerstone will feature plants IN the soil! Until then, make sure to stop by and check out what’s happening at 76th and Lyndale.


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