The Garden Files

That classic 1962 ballad “Up On The Roof” by the Drifters has literally been taken to heart here at 12 Street Catering. With nearly 2 years in the planning, work is about to begin with the initial first phase installation of a working roof top garden.

An area was chosen on the nearly 24,000 square foot rooftop to locate the first installation and plantings. This year will see 5 self contained eco-friendly units, roughly 4 ft. x 5 ft., put in place. The planting units will have an industrial stylized look and the metal framed unit used to contain the soil itself will be comprised of ‘food grade’ material. An automatic drip irrigation system is being considered to maintain the moisture needs. Organic growing methods will be employed and our resident chef gardeners will be the caretakers.

This first year will be a test year, of sorts. There will definitely be a great selection of perennial and annual herbs. Beyond that, we will experiment with a limited selection of heirloom vegetables, such as peppers and tomatoes, to gain knowledge as to what thrives well and what doesn’t.  Perennial edibles such as rhubarb, horseradish, asparagus and sun choke (Jerusalem Artichoke) are also candidates for the initial line up.

And if you think that gardens in the burbs are the only ones in peril from birds, squirrels and other pesky opportunists, think again. We are also working on a safe responsible deterrent to keep our ‘city dweller’ friends at bay.

The rooftop garden was implemented as an educational, fun and interactive way to help all of us here at 12 St. Catering  appreciate how, why, where and when our food is grown, harvested and brought to the table. It will also provide the ultimate sensory and taste experience of harvesting something fully matured, unadulterated and at its peak.

This brings to mind memories of me as a young boy in Illinois, standing in my grandfather’s vast garden between rows of tomatoes. I could feel the warm black soil on my bare feet. I would carry the salt shaker into the garden, find the fattest, reddest tomato (usually a ‘Big Boy’ or ‘Rutgers’ variety) and break it off the stem. I would lick the tomato skin so the salt would stick for the first bite and sink in deep. The sensory sensation of a perfectly ripe, sun warmed, juicy tomato; acidic sweet and heightened by the sprinkle of salt; juice running down my arm………”ahhhhh!”  THAT experience was, and still is, priceless.

– Chef Jon, Gentleman Gardner

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