Along the Ohlone Greenway, which I talked about in my previous post, one of my favorite spots to stop is the EcoHouse at Peralta and Hopkins streets (right next to the Karl Linn Community Garden). The Ecohouse is a demonstration home and gardens for a variety of green building and gardening techniques. There is always something to see there — vegetables and fruit growing in the permaculture garden, the ducks that eat bugs and swim around in a bathtub, the shed made of natural building materials. Recently, a greywater system was installed, the first permitted residential system in Berkeley.
One of my favorite features of the EcoHouse, though, is the “living roof” on top of the garden shed. A few months ago, the roof was planted with vegetable seedlings that now appear to be providing a nice harvest of greens. The idea of “green roofs” or “living roofs” has been around for sometime, but it seems to be growing in popularity. I have seen new books out on the subject and various articles and academic papers as well. Green roofs vary, but they generally constitute plantings on some sort of structure, such as a shed, parking garage roof, or office building. They use light-weight planting mediums (so that the roof doesn’t collapse) and some sort of planting. I have seem examples of green roofs with low plantings such as sedums, and with native grasses, but not with vegetables, so this was a pleasant surprise. There was a series of workshops at the EcoHouse last fall, including one where the green roof was installed. I imagine there will be future classes there — the Ecology Center calendar is the best place to find out about such events.