North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose getting big rooftop farm for tenants

WASHINGTON — D.C.-based Up Top Acres, which got its start planting rooftop farms in the D.C. area in 2014, is preparing for its biggest project yet: a 17,000-square-foot rooftop farm at North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose mixed-used development

And it will offer a membership program, called community-supported agriculture, to both Pike & Rose office workers and residents.

“It’ll be about $25 worth of fresh produce a week. They’ll get anywhere from eight to 10 items per week,” Up Top Acres co-founder Kristof Grina told WTOP.

“They’ll grab it in the evening and take it home and cook with it, and we’ll provide recipes to go along,” he said.

Up Top Acres runs a small network of close to a half dozen rooftop farms in the D.C. area. Its largest prior to the upcoming Pike & Rose farm is a 7,000 rooftop farm at 4905 Elm Street in Bethesda Row. That rooftop farm has partnered with nearby restaurants, including Jose Andres’ Jaleo Bethesda, since its first planting in 2015.

Grina says they have learned much about what works and what does not work, as far as crops planted in rooftop farms in the last couple of years.

“Stuff that really likes the heat,” do best, Grina said. “It gets a lot of sun up on the roof, so your tomatoes, your peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, all of those things do really well, plus we have an extended growing season,” he added.

Both the Pike & Rose and Bethesda Row projects for Up Top Acres are in partnership with building owners Federal Realty Trust, which has said it plans to replicate large-scale rooftop farms at more of its buildings in the future.

In addition to the produce, rooftop farms also save money by reducing roof maintenance costs in the long run and increasing efficiency as a green roof, FRT said.

Up Top Acres said traditional farms measure the distance their produce travels in miles driven, while it measures it in flights of stairs. The company also has a farm membership at 55 M Street Southeast in the Capital Riverfront.

In addition to Jaleo, Up Top’s restaurant and retail customers include Blue Jacket, Equinox, Little Red Fox, The Oval Room, A Baked Joint and Glen’s Garden Market.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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