Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


City Farmer's Green Roof

goat Circle City, Alaska, 1898, 75 miles south of the Arctic Circle:

"Circle City was also proud of its beautiful early spring lawns and flower beds, which like the hanging gardens of Babylon, grew on the flat roof tops, the lawn grass and flower bulbs rooted in the roof sod, sprouted and thrust their leaves upward, as if growing beneath tropic skies. In the month of May these beautiful lawns and flower beds, covering the one-storied flat-roofed town gave the approaching traveller the illusion that he was entering a raised but wide field of green crops and flaming flowers. Many a vegetable garden grew on the housetops when the earth supporting them was solidly frozen many feet in depth."

"The saloons, the stores, the church, and the sanctum of the Yukon Press, the dance halls, the Indian rancheries, miner's cabins and dog houses were all one-story and squat, with every flat pole roof covered a foot deep with sod."

From: Old Yukon Tales, Trails and Trials
James Wickersham, of Juneau, Alaska
1938, Washington Law Book Co.

This summer we visited the home of Alaska pioneer Judge Wickersham in Juneau and discovered that he had written an obscure but fascinating book about the North at the turn of the century. At first I was unable to find a copy, but a dusty edition turned up in the stacks of Vancouver's main library. On the day that we finally planted the cob shed roof with greenery, I was very excited but returned home tired. I lay down for a rest and continued reading Tales, Trails and Trials. Before falling asleep, I turned the page and that wonderful quotation you see above jumped out at me. Here was a tiny Arctic town, bustling for just a few years during the Gold Rush of the 1890's, where every home featured a living roof, many growing food! What a wonderful shock to see our work echoed in that long ago urban panorama. (Mike Levenston)

front roof
back roof
above roof

Slide Show

Green Roof on our Cob Garden Shed
See all the stages involved in building a green roof. Posted September 12, 2003

Green Roof Membrane

Donated and Installed by Terry Kellogg
TEK Roofing and Sheet Metal Ltd.
#1105 - 1500 Howe Street
Vancouver BC V6Z 2N1
Office 604.685.4652

The Siplast Roof System installed on the City Farmer cob shed consists of the following:

Green Roof Soil

Donated by Verdir Systems Inc.
5-3843 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver BC Canada V6R 1P8
Tel 604.676.0288
Fax 604.676.0287

Plant List For City Farmer's Cob Green Roof


2 lbs (seeds) Festuca. 0.5lb. mixed native grasses


25 Sedum oreganum (Oregon Stonecrop) S. spathulifolium 72
25 Sedum divergens (Spreading Stonecrop) S. spathulifolium 72
15 Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Mountain Saxifrage)
25 Mahonia nervosa (Low Oregon Grape) 38 plug
25 Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnik) 10cm
10 Potentilla racillis/villosa (Silverweed/Villous Cinqefoil) 38 plug
25 Cornus Canadensis (Bunchberry) 10cm
25 Sisyrinchium douglasii (Satin Flower) 10cm


6 Gautheria shallon (Salal) 10cm
4 Vaccinium parvifolium (Red Huckleberry) 10cm


15 Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern) #1
10 Dryopteris expansa (Spiney Wood Fern) 10cm

Cob Slide Shows Showing How We Built the Shed and Oven

Cob Oven Built
Over the weekend May 23, 24 and 25, 2003, John Freeman, his staff and volunteers (mostly from Mountain Equipment Co-op) built a cob oven at the City Farmer Demonstration Garden. Posted June 16, 2003

Cob Garden Shed Slideshow 1
During the week June 9 - June 15, 2003, John Freeman, Robin and Grant showed workshop participants how to build with cob at the City Farmer Demonstration Garden. Posted June 16, 2003

Cob Garden Shed Slideshow 2
We're still at it and it's now July. Watch the walls go up in this slide show. The roof is coming next! Posted July 9, 2003

Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.

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Revised October 5, 2004

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture