As the nation becomes increasingly aware of our need for environmental sustainability and agricultural self-reliance, we begin to look for new ways to incorporate greenery into our lives. Lisa and Chris Goode run Goode Green, a green-roof design firm to suit this precise need. They started out with greening roofs with plants and other small vegetation, but have been looking towards a more agricultural approach as demand increases. Lisa and I chatted about the development of their firm, current projects, and how excited people are about greening open spaces.
Did you or your husband have any background in gardening or agriculture before starting the firm? No—my husband definitely had more background than I did, but there was no formal background for either of us. We had begun a pretty extensive project for ourselves, and through that project the business was born. It was on-the-job training. Part of the reason we did our initial green-roof project for ourselves was that we were developing the property, but there was no one in New York who could provide any information about green roofs. Once we finished the project and enjoyed it and it was successful, we saw a demand and the business grew from there.
What obstacles did you face in starting the business? Were people skeptical? Not really, but even today, people are like, "A green roof? What's a green roof?" There's been a lot of ground to cover in terms of educating others about the idea of a green roof. Part of the problem comes from a new lexicon; it took forever to standardize the term "green roof." People were calling that type of development all kinds of things. It's a learning curve for everyone.
The Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is one of your biggest and most expansive projects. How was this development different from your other undertakings? We do have other projects that were spatially larger than this one, but this was new in that it introduced an agricultural element to our prior projects. A new idea—you can have a green roof, and grow vegetables! We had already wanted to push towards doing an agricultural project, and we had been contacted by farmers who were interested in urban agriculture.
Doing agricultural roofs has definitely given us a niche; we've been contacted by hotels and restaurants looking to incorporate sustainable rooftop gardening into their designs. This farm opened up a whole different area of what green roofs can be utilized for.
Do you have plans in the works for other large-scale farms? It's getting comical; we have a lot. We have a couple of calls for very large-scale agricultural projects; some spaces outside the city, one in Queens. We're not to the point of installation on anything yet, but I see people ready to take more risks again economically. Looking to have new endeavors, or new construction looking to integrate a green roof into project development. Greening is being talked about more, so people have more awareness of green roofs, of growing vegetables—and this goes hand-in-hand with the economic climate improving.
Are you intending to stay within New York City, or are you looking to expand elsewhere?We're talking to people all over: New Jersey, the Hamptons, Westchester, Connecticut. I think a lot of people are just trying to learn about green design, so we'll see how many of these projects actually follow through. Whatever scale people are working with, we want to try to develop it. There's great benefits to green roofs, both environmental and otherwise.
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