Rouses Markets Builds Herb Garden on Downtown NOLA Roof
05/17/2012 – NEW ORLEANS – Rouses Markets, one of the 10 largest independent grocers in the United States, announced today that they have introduced a new garden on the rooftop of Rouses Market in downtown New Orleans. The company admits it does look like a typical herb garden; but this isn't a typical grocery store. Parsley, basil and cilantro are among the herbs the company is growing to package and sell on the building's ground floor.
Rouses Markets is the first grocer in the country to develop its own aeroponic urban farm on its own rooftop, says managing partner Donny Rouse. And they could not have picked a more picturesque location. "The flat rooftop on this store is perfect for urban farming," says Rouse. "And the view of downtown is postcard-perfect. I imagine we will do a lot of dinners up here on the farm." Rouses Markets downtown store sits just blocks from the Superdome, French Quarter, and Mississippi River.
The vertical aeroponic Tower Garden™ uses water rather than soil, and allows you to grow up instead of out. It was developed by a former Disney greenhouse manager, and is used at Disney, the Chicago O'Hare Airport Eco-Farm and on the Manhattan rooftop of Bell Book & Candle restaurant. "This is very cutting edge for urban farming," says Rouse. His company has aptly named the farm Roots on the Rooftop.
Chef Louis "Jack" Treuting, Rouses Culinary Director, first saw Roots on the Rooftop as a way to provide fresh herbs for the food Rouses chefs prepare, but quickly saw potential to expand the program to include retail. "I knew if our chefs wanted it, so would our customers." Treuting worked with New Orleans-based A.M.P.S. (www.ampsnola.com) on the Rouses system. "Aeroponics makes sense for the space," said Treuting. "It is lighter than soil-based operations, and the towers recycle water and liquid nutrients through their own reservoirs, so they're sustainable."
Roots on the Rooftop will officially launch on May 31st, one day before New Orleans kicks off its second annual Eat Local Challenge. "The locavore challenge is to eat food grown within a 200 mile radius," says Rouse. "In our case, we're growing herbs less than 100 feet from our store."
While this is Rouses Markets first foray into urban gardening, the company's roots are planted in the local produce business. Anthony J. Rouse grew up working for his father's produce shipping company, City Produce, before opening his first grocery store in 1960. "My grandfather was a farmer at heart," says Rouse. "He would have loved everything about this."
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