ØsterGRO: Rooftop farm above the concrete
Above the city’s hustle and bustle, organic vegetables of many kinds thrive. Lush vegetable gardens, arranged neatly in rows, occupy most of the roof in Østerbro. The place is called ØsterGRO, Denmark’s first rooftop farm, complete with an adjoining restaurant that invites city dwellers to get up close and personal with food production.
At Æbløgade number four, a concrete square wrapped in vertical bands of windows gives passersby a glimpse of a busy everyday life. What once served as a car auction house now hosts a handful of companies and their employees. In many ways, the building embodies the raw and hectic urban life, making it hard to imagine that at the end of a spiral staircase, atop the building’s roof, lies something as contrasting as an organic urban farm called ØsterGRO – a pun on the word Østerbro and gro, the Danish word for grow.
Urban Organic Rooftop Farm
The first encounter with ØsterGRO can feel a bit surreal. On top of a building overlooking Østerbro, is a 600-square-meter farm where not only vegetables grow but also where rabbits, chickens, and bees reside. The green vegetable gardens occupy most of the space. A narrow paved path breaks up the large area to make the gardens accessible and leads the way to the Gro Spiseri restaurant. A small greenhouse that offers an organic and casual dining experience at long tables where, in the evening, you can enjoy the green view illuminated by strung lights.
From farm to table
ØsterGRO was founded in 2014 by Sofie Brincker, Livia Urban Swart Haaland, and Kristian Skaarup. The initiators, together with the staff and volunteers, grow food according to organic principles and supply vegetables, honey, and eggs to the farm’s members. The place is inspired by the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) concept, an alternative, locally based economic model for agriculture that directly connects farmers and consumers. When the harvest season begins, members can pick up their share of greens every Wednesday. The vegetables come partly from ØsterGRO’s own kitchen garden and partly from their partners at Stenbølgård, a small family-run farm that provide vegetables that requires more space and time.
Link Between Country and City
The vision behind ØsterGRO is not for cities to be self-sufficient in the future, but to create a link between the countryside and the city. The place aims to give urban dwellers a chance to follow the seasonal cycle in an organic vegetable garden closely. In this way, foundational knowledge of how our food is grown and produced is passed on. ØsterGRO hosts tours and learning sessions to facilitate this connection. Furthermore, the goal is to make the city greener and promote local communities centered around organic food and ecology.
ØsterGRO also helped establish Øens Have, Scandinavia’s largest urban farm, located on Refshaleøen.
ØsterGRO is not the only piece of urban nature in outer Østerbro. As part of Denmark’s first climate neighborhood, hosting 20 different projects, there are many green neighbors. Among them is Tåsinge Plads, a green urban oasis that can manage a rising events of heavy rainfall events but also provides a new meeting place for the neighborhood’s residents. Skt. Kjelds Plads is also part of the neighborhood, where 586 trees have been planted.