Sustainable Rooftop Farming in Metro Manila? This Developer is Way Ahead of You
In major cities all around the world, green rooftops have been quite literally on the rise. These are gardens and farms, big and small, situated atop buildings—rooftops that would have otherwise been gray. At scale, green rooftops are a great step towards sustainability in urban areas, because apart from helping to offset carbon emissions, they can also help alleviate heat, as well as absorb pollutants and surface runoff, among other functions.
The good news is that this trend isn’t exclusive to cities of the developed world anymore. Here too, in the Philippines, we're seeing more and more green rooftops in various applications.
Leading the charge is real estate developer Arthaland, which practices sustainable rooftop farming in Metro Manila. Arthaland is the developer of Arya Residences, a Bonifacio Global City address with a 400-sqm farm on top. This farm is called the Potager Garden, and it produces organic fruits, herbs, and vegetables, which are then sold at cost to residents.
The Potager is the brainchild of Arthaland president Jimmie González and his wife Connie Yuchengco González. She saw a vacant space and thought to use it to provide healthier food options for the community at Arya. Naturally, it also became a significant environmental effort. “Green building is our contribution to help improve the environment for future generations to enjoy,” González says.
Residents were quick to see the value of the Potager, and to appreciate the fresh, organic produce. The garden was such a success that Arthaland published The Potager Garden Book, which proudly showcases farm-to-table recipes by Arya residents, who used ingredients from their little green oasis.
Apart from the obvious nutritional benefits, the Potager Garden has also helped initiate greater social interaction and community involvement among the residents. “They got excited and continuously checked if the seeds were growing, and asked when the harvest time would be,” explains González.
Residents were also thrilled to share their ideas and recipes for The Potager Garden Book. Chef Bruce Ricketts of Mecha Uma and Sensei is an Arya resident himself, and he used the herbs from the rooftop garden to cook during the lockdown. He then contributed a few homestyle recipes to the book, including his Smoky Eggplant Dip, which is an Asian version of the Middle Eastern Baba Ganoush.
Another resident who shared a recipe is Popi Laudico. An excerpt from her Herb Butter recipe reads, “I am fortunate to have a vegetable and herb garden in my apartment building. I can go and gather fresh tarragon, dill, basil, parsley, and even chili to add to my dishes.” She also acknowledges that the Potager Garden, as well as the book, are sources of pride for Arya residents. "I'm so proud to be a part of it," she says. "Now I want to see what I can get from our garden so I can try out the recipes!"
Because the book contains recipes by Arya residents, it isn't just a cookbook—it's also a symbol of the community. "The book is a great example of collaboration," says resident Jenny Burger. "It reflects our shared commitment to enhancing and promoting sustainable living in BGC."
Mia Ibarra, who is also a part of the Arya residential community, shared her baked camote recipe for the cookbook. "The Potager Garden book was beautifully made with love. It was such an honor to contribute."
Arya resident Jojo Laurel shares the same excitement about The Potager Garden Book. "Love the book," she enthuses. "I'm looking forward to trying some of the recipes!"
By spearheading green projects like The Potager Garden—a thriving rooftop farm amidst the bustling streets of BGC—Arthaland continues to provide communities a “blossoming oasis at the heart of the metropolis.”
Clearly, though, Arya isn't the last stop for this wave of green rooftops. “We hope to spread our commitment to a more sustainable and healthier way of living through the creation of Potager Gardens in all our projects,” González says.