Pike & Rose’s newest development isn’t a restaurant or a business. It’s a 17,000-square-foot farm that will provide produce to residents and nearby eateries.
The farm will be situated one story above the North Bethesda development, on top of the Old Georgetown Road Garage next to the Pallas at Pike & Rose apartments.
Up Top Acres, the local company behind the large garden, specializes in “rooftop farms.” In 2015, the company set up a 7,000-square-foot farm above Equinox in Bethesda Row. It operates four other farms in the region, including its first farm, which is on the roof of the restaurant Oyamel in D.C., and two near Nationals Park.
Co-founder Kathleen O’Keefe said the rooftop farm will sell its goods to local restaurants and have an open market nearby. People living in or near Pike & Rose can pay to become members and pick up a share of produce every week. The rest will be sold to other customers.
“Hopefully, produce will be traveling maybe five blocks from farm to consumer,” she said Wednesday.
O’Keefe said the farm will grow about 20,000 pounds of produce annually, including herbs, tomatoes, peppers, flowers and root vegetables like carrots, turnips and radishes. It also will have a few beehives.
The Pike & Rose farm will be retrofitted from an existing green roof. Via Kathleen O’Keefe
The idea behind the rooftop farms, O’Keefe said, is to provide food in a way that’s environmentally friendly and focused on local businesses.
“By growing food in the city and where people are living, we’re able to reduce that transportation and then in doing so, we’re offering local, fresh produce to residents that tastes better and has a longer shelf life,” she said.
Up Top Acres plans to set up the farm once the weather gets warmer. Planting should begin in late March and the first produce pickups are expected for May.
The company, which sells produce to tapas restaurant Jaleo from its Bethesda farm, has not finalized what restaurants it will sell to from the North Bethesda location. O’Keefe said organizers were exploring participating in Pike & Rose’s farmers market and are considering further expansion.
“We’re always looking for new farms, new rooftops to build on,” she said.