Urban Agriculture Is Making Its Way Onto Office Rooftops and This Company Is Leading The Way
Is your office building part of the green revolution?
In a world faced with environmental challenges and growing food insecurity, a remarkable initiative has emerged. Guided by a shared vision and a genuine commitment to making a difference, Robinsons Offices and FarmTop have united in a quest to create a greener and brighter future—one that cares for our planet and uplifts our communities.
Robinsons Offices, the developer of premium, sustainable, and future-ready offices under Robinsons Land Corporation, has committed to collaborate with FarmTop to develop sky farms in strategically located office buildings around the country.
FarmTop (Farm-to-Plate) is an enterprise and a lifestyle brand that promotes urban agriculture; utilizing rooftops to address the growing demand for fresh produce delivered right at your doorsteps and direct to your plate. Urban agriculture also lessens our dependence on farmlands that are on a rapid decline due to climate change and rapid wide-scale development into urban centers.
Under the “Farm-to-Plate” concept, fresh vegetables are produced much closer to where they are consumed, typically within a 5-kilometer radius. This minimizes the carbon footprint that traditional farm-to-market routes would typically entail.
Each rooftop farm can produce as much as five tons of vegetables a month, estimates Danny Dy, President and CEO of FarmTop. The yield can serve the wider market of condominiums, offices, schools, hotels, and restaurants within its vicinity.
This collaboration embodies a holistic approach, where social, environmental, and economic aspects harmoniously converge to nurture a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.
Cultivating A Healthier Tomorrow
By 2025, food insecurity, or the lack of steady access to affordable, nutritious food for a healthy life, is predicted to reach dire levels in the Philippines, leading to hunger on a nationwide scale.
“By tying up with FarmTop, we are able to offer alternative means to healthy eating,” says Jericho P. Go, Robinsons Offices Senior Vice President and General Manager. “We can provide the space, expand the market, and create jobs for urban farmers.” The company’s involvement goes beyond corporate interests as it demonstrates their dedication to their employees’ well-being. “We recognize the power of eating healthy in boosting productivity and promoting overall wellness,” Go adds.
Notably, Robinsons Offices' employees stand to benefit directly from the rooftop farms. By providing their workforce with access to fresh produce, the company practices the ethos that charity begins at home. This initiative not only promotes healthier living among employees but also creates a ripple effect that extends to broader communities.
The partnership aims to create an awareness of how rooftop farming or controlled environment agriculture is a technology-based method of producing food. “The goal is to control all our farm environment through my smartphone,” says Dy. “We want to make farming more sexy.”
Through hydroponics (or soilless farming in a controlled environment), crops are sustained by water, carbon dioxide, energy, and nutrients instead of conventional soil and pesticides. The soilless method, often referred to as ‘post-organic’, reduces the risk of attacks from soil-based pests and weeds. By cultivating seeds in trays and racks, it optimizes the rooftop space allowing for more yield per square meter and a shorter growth time. This method also encourages the younger generation to become farm scientists by bridging traditional practices with modern technology.
The agripreneur recalls that FarmTop recruited farmers and civilians who were displaced by the Marawi Siege and brought to Manila to learn this new technology for farming. Janitors and waiters, who lost their jobs in the pandemic, were hired as riders for the FarmTop deliveries.
FarmTop's approach involves educating these farmers about cutting-edge agricultural techniques, such as hydroponics, which maximizes crop yield and resource efficiency. These methods often require less land, less water, and fewer pesticides compared to traditional farming, making them more environmentally friendly and economically viable.
Training farmers in advanced practices empowers them to leverage digital tools and data-driven insights for more efficient crop management and resource utilization which not only assists in economic recovery but also contributes to the overall enhancement of food production and sustainability.
“We want to veer away from just being a vegetable supplier,” maintains Dy. “Our first advocacy is to rejuvenate the agriculture industry by producing more food as we increase the farms on roof decks. The second is providing a healthy alternative. On our Farmtop website, chefs and regular customers have shared ways on how healthy eating can actually be delicious,” says Dy.
In the same spirit, Robinsons Land has consistently supported Rise Against Hunger’s causes. Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable, mobilizing the necessary resources to end hunger by 2030. FarmTop plans to formalize its commitment to Rise Against Hunger through the ‘Bawat Buto Buhay’ program, which will be launched this year.
Harvesting A Greener Tomorrow
The rooftop farm turns an underutilized space into a productive asset. By introducing greenery, these urban farms act as natural coolants, mitigating the heat generated by clusters of buildings and pavements in densely populated areas. The presence of plants helps in regulating temperature, thereby creating pockets of cooler air in urban landscapes. Moreover, as plants photosynthesize, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. This process not only enhances the immediate air quality in the vicinity but contributes to the overall reduction of harmful emissions in the environment. It's a silent battle against air pollution, one that's fought leaf by leaf and plant by plant, on the rooftops of our cities.
The positive environmental impact extends beyond just cooling and air purification. With fresh produce cultivated so close to where it's consumed, there's a substantial reduction in the need for long-distance transportation.
Dy says that, instead of relying on produce from Cavite, Batangas, and Baguio, the farm is brought into the city. “We specialize in building farms on roof decks. The travel of the greens to the consumer is shorter. It’s cost-efficient and it’s fresher,” he says. Packed in airtight bags, the vegetables remain crisp and tasty for three weeks. By reducing the journey from farm to plate, rooftop farms play a crucial role in decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. FarmTop is exploring environmentally-friendly delivery options, like bicycles, side cars, or electric vehicles. This approach is aimed at achieving zero carbon footprint, further emphasizing their commitment to sustainability.
Planting The Seeds of Advocacy
In a momentous event graced by top executives including JG Summit’s President and CEO, Lance Y. Gokongwei, the company unveiled its inaugural rooftop farm last October 10, 2023 at Robinsons Cyberscape Alpha, in celebration of its first successful harvest. This occasion is a testament to their commitment to sustainability–one that receives top marks in every aspect of their mission.
At the core, Robinsons Offices and FarmTop embark on a transformative journey, choosing to do what is right even when the path is uncharted. Their motive is simple yet profound: to bestow upon a greener, healthier, and brighter future for generations to come. In each rooftop farm, in every cityscape, they etch a legacy of environmental stewardship, community empowerment, and their unwavering dedication to creating a more sustainable world.
For more information and updates on Robinsons Offices, click here.