By Valerie Perse
Looking for a place to relax and use your green thumb? Principia’s rooftop garden is a hidden
gem that not many students know of. Started by Principia alumnus Jeff Lewis, the green roof is
an amazing place where students and faculty can gather and learn about gardening and
The idea for the green roof sprouted after Lewis participated in the Urban Harvest STL
“I was part of the first class of interns and stayed on for a second growing season because it was
so much fun.” explained Lewis. “While I was participating in the program, I was also developing
a plan to build a smaller version of Urban Harvest’s food roof on campus. After lots of research
and discussions with on campus stakeholders, I got the approval to build the roof.”
“If it wasn’t for the internship at Urban Harvest, I probably would have never seen the possibility
in my original crazy idea of building a green roof farm on campus,” said Lewis.
Urban Harvest STL is a St. Louis organization that works to provide fresh produce to
communities that have little or no access to it. Its main strategy is to create rooftop gardens in
urban areas to connect the community and help people gain access to better more nutritional
Principia’s green roof, located on the Science Center above the Information Technology
Department, is managed by admissions administrative assistant Carly Hendrickson. Hendrickson
had always been interested in gardening, and she began working on the green roof nearly a year
ago, prior to which it was not in use.
Hendrickson has grown tomatoes, basil, rosemary, mint potatoes, kale, kohlrabi, red cabbage,
and leeks. This spring, she hopes to add arugula, garlic, barley, as well as some spring flowers
like tulips and peonies.
“It’s a space that has a lot of opportunity for people that want to come up with some pretty cool
ideas and designs. It’s probably one of the best places I can think of for people that like to have
independent projects either as a single person or as a group. It’s definitely not a space that I had
when I was a student here, and I would have killed to have that space for an independent
project.” said Hendrickson.
So far, the produce grown on the green roof has gone to a small group of people, including
summer research assistants, professor of sustainability Karen Eckert, members of the
Sustainability Club, and Hendrickson.
Hendrickson is investing her free time and funds into operating the green roof but, she says, if
there is a lot of student interest, there’s potential for the green roof to be funded by Principia.
“When it comes directly from students, it has more weight to it because it is an academic space
to help support their interests,” said Hendrickson.