Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Roofs at Apopka High Career Day - Amazing Ideas from Students

MetroVerde participated in the first annual Apopka, Florida High School Career day with four interactive hour long sessions.

I was quite impressed with Apopka High School's facilities and staff.  ROTC members escorted us guest speakers to our respective rooms.  The school was clean, bright and full of talkative young people.   Ms. Erin Poppert, the Science teacher who was responsible for supervising the Green Roof session ensured I had all the proper audio visual tools needed and participated in each of the four sessions.

Apopka High School
Apopka High School Career Day, Green Roofs

We talked about what green or living roofs were and touched on their benefits;

  • possible insulation qualities
  • habitat and support for biodiversity
  • food production
  • stormwater cleansing
  • integrated pest management
  • beauty - sense of place
  • production of oxygen and sequestration of carbon
  • and more
Reviewing the 5 H's of Florida Green Roof design principles - 
  1. Hurricanes
  2. Heat
  3. Humidity
  4. Hard Freezes
  5. High Winds
I could see students - the future scientists, engineers, botanists and entrepreneurs' eyes widen, thinking about the possibilities for economics, environment, health and opportunity.

We discussed rooftop permaculture at length and because we are actively involved in a rooftop permaculture project I thought it would be insightful and useful to solicit their ideas as to what vegetables would be good to grow on a roof.  I know the vegetables I like to use, and know what is drought tolerant and technically feasible to grow.  Sometimes however I find myself caught up in the technical and artistic components of a living roof to the point where I miss the human taste differences issue.

I wanted to find out in a broad, general sense what vegetables the young adults would prefer to grow on a green roof's garden.

  • Tomatoes - usually the very first response - most everyone wanted tomatoes!
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Green beans
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Peanuts - a very good suggestion (adding peanuts could produce fuel!)
  • Blueberries
  • Squash - calabasa
  • Grapes
  • Pumpkins
  • Eggplant
  • Watermelon
  • Peppers
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Corn
  • Greens
  • Soy beans
  • Pinto beans

I will look over the list and learn from it, for understanding people's tastes is an important facet of rooftop permaculture.  Now all the above plants may not work on a green roof.  Many have varying soil requirements and other horticultural needs.  But a comprehensive list of desired vegetables from a broad cross-section of a geographic population is important data.  Understanding the people component to green roofs adds to the potential for long term success.

The Apopka High School day was much fun and I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with creative minds.

Ms. Poppert has fashioned a great science agenda for her students.

I suspect there will be some important future green roof and horticulture research develop as a result of the students inquisitiveness and Erin's efforts.

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