The rooftop garden next to General Motors’ Renaissance Center world headquarters wrapped up another productive growing season. Now in its third year, the garden – thriving from the landfill-free facility’s compost – resulted in 815 pounds of fresh produce, 150 jars of honey, and $3,546.00 in donations to a community shelter located across the street.
Andiamo Detroit, an Italian restaurant inside the headquarters, made eggplant parmesan, spicy salsa and bruschetta for customers using the garden’s vegetables and herbs. In turn, the restaurant owner made a donation equal to the food’s value to the nearby warming center.
Pollinators contributed to the garden’s success. In the fall, the team harvested the honeybees’ honey and sold it in the Renaissance Center’s holiday shops. Proceeds from the 150 jars also supported the warming center.
The Renaissance Center and the Detroit Riverfront are on a direct monarch butterfly migration path. To help increase local monarch populations, GM created three certified Monarch Waystations and adds more milkweed plants to them every year. During the summer, a group of employees and kids from the building’s onsite daycare center came together to release 100 monarchs. The activity raised awareness of GM’s commitment to biodiversity, as well as provided tips on how to support pollinators at home. After each person released one or two butterflies, the sky was full of the brightly colored creatures. The majority flew right to the garden’s basil, spearmint and marigolds.
The rooftop garden allows GM to give back to the Detroit community, while creating a beautiful space visible from the skyscraper’s working space.
What’s next for 2017? The Renaissance Center environmental team is working on a 5-foot-tall “living wall” that will surround a part of the garden. Built by stacking the same shipping crates from Orion Assembly that serve as the raised garden beds, the top bin will feature wildflowers to continue attracting those pollinators.