1. Health & Lifestyle

Israel’s Rooftop Farm, Peeking from a Shopping Mall

Monika Mondal
Monika Mondal

In between the hustle bustle of the city, amongst the big tall building and towers lies a rooftop, from where green leafy vegetables bestows the urban dwellers of Israel with health and taste.

650 Square meters of Dizengoff Center, which is Israel’s first shopping mall, hosts a beautiful terrace garden. This Shopping mall, is a cultural milestone in the history of Tel Aviv and stands apart for bringing agriculture to the centre of the city.

Sheana Shechterman, director sustainability, Dizengoff Centre, tells Agriculture World, “As a leading shopping mall we aim to become a role model for combining business excellence with social responsibility, enhancing the economic, environmental, cultural, and social well-being of visitors, tenants and workers. Furthermore, from, 2013 we began to integrate a strategy for sustainability into our daily operations. “

With the majority of its land being desert, Israel is known for its technological evolutionandprudence. “Green in the City” uses a hydroponic method which saves 80% of the water if we compare it with the conventional agricultural practices. “Hydroponic agriculture is the best method to deal with water scarcity issues,” mentions Sheana.
“Organic” would be another worth mentioning superlative for “Green in the City”.  No pesticides or chemicals are used for the production of more than 15 green leafy vegetables which accounts for 15,000 pieces per month.

Green in the City (GITC), with Living Green, established the farm in 2014 at the terrace of the shopping mall. “We did not start with the productional farm. In the beginning, there was an only a tutorial farm. Once we realised how quickly and beautifully the leafy greens are growing we thought we should make a business out of it and use the roof for monetary benefits.“ says Sheana. Currently, Green in the city is operating two farms: One for production of the veggies and a smaller tutorial farm which aims to up-skill individuals who wish to grow greens using the hydroponic technique.

Started with lettuce, slowly the realm of greens expanded and included numerous leafy green vegetables one can imagine -Basil, Parsley, Mangold, Mint, Celery, Green onion arugula are few of the belongings to mention.

However, it was rather a herculean task to even think of. The project is still in its pilot phase and protocols are being developed for better growth of leafy greens, in the heart of the city in this country of Middle East. Another nuisance is the urban taxes which needs to be paid to the City Hall for using the roof. But fighting all these odds, Green in the city is thinking of launching more such models in other parts of Tel Aviv.

GITC sells its organic fresh vegetables to the restaurants and the city dwellers who feel more than happy to consume healthy chemical-free greens. “ People in Israel especially in Tel Aviv are much aware of healthy diet practices and also after reading in papers, about all hazards that pesticides cause, people are more and more interested in purchasing or growing food that is pesticide-free. This has been a reason, why many people come here to learn how to grow food for themselves and also the owners of the restaurants to whom we sell the greens are happy to purchase clean fresh local grown greens” adds Sheana.

The other initiatives by Dizengoff Centre include promoting small businesses by hosting weekly designer and food fairs, supporting NGOs and broader social activism. The squeezing land availability and the augmenting urban population amid degrading air quality, shrieks for a sustainable urban farm model like this.

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