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Up on the (Green) Roof

When this old world starts getting you down--especially when it’s snowing in mid-April--think green! Up on the roof of the Uncommon Ground restaurant on Devon Avenue in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, seedlings are about to sprout. Atop this 1909 building, the 800-square-foot roof will soon be filled with all kinds of vegetables and herbs. Picture not only your typical tomatoes and peppers, but also kale, okra, leeks, garlic, and cilantro. The mini-farm, which has operated on the recycled plastic roof deck since 2008, has its own high-tech irrigation system. The organic veggies share the roof with beehives as well as solar thermal panels that provide “juice” for the eatery’s hot water. By mid-summer, the farm is abuzz with activity. Hungry patrons and “urban ag” fans can climb up two stories to take a tour, or to just socialize and nosh on a harvest of crunchy finger food.

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