Rooftop Ready Seeds is the first seed company to offer New York City farmers and gardeners locally grown seeds. Seeds specifically cultivated to thrive in the city’s unique environment will help maintain plant diversity, which is becoming increasingly threatened around the world. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over the past century, about 75 percent of plant genetic resources have been lost and one third of today’s diversity could disappear by 2050. Furthermore, as FAO reports, “plant genetic resources are the biological basis of food security and, directly or indirectly, support the livelihoods of every person on Earth.”
Supporting local seed enterprises—in rural and urban areas alike—can be a key way to ensure plant genetic resources are preserved. Furthermore, local seeds, such as Rooftop Ready Seeds, can thrive in their unique environments. New York City for example, has a special urban heat island effect, where concrete and asphalt absorb heat throughout the day, causing it to become hotter than the surrounding areas. Thus, certain types of crops grow better in New York City than the rest of the Hudson Valley. As Rooftop Ready Founder, Zac Pickens, points out in an interview with Grist, “in the city we can grow okra pretty well because it stays so warm through the night.”
Small local enterprises like Rooftop Ready, however, only make up a fraction of their industry, with large seed companies controlling the bulk of the market share. But supporting small seed companies can help conserve plant diversity.