Rise Rooftop Farm

If you, like thousands of other Wichitan’s, have filed through the Intrust Bank Arena or the former downtown library for your COVID-19 vaccination, you may have noticed some additional construction traffic. A new parking structure built by Fidelity Bank near Market and English will open later this year, but will serve as far more than a simple parking garage. It will soon be home to the largest rooftop farm in the Midwest.

The top floor of the new building will feature an approximately 15,000 square foot urban farm, a 204-panel solar farm, as well as an event space. That’s only the top floor. The ground floor will be home to several new retail spaces and a brand new farm-to-table restaurant. The produce from the farm will be used at the new in-house restaurant and will soon be found on plates in other restaurants in the area.

With construction wrapping up mid summer, Fidelity Bank has enlisted the help of Leah Dannar-Garcia, owner/operator of Firefly Farm, to launch the new Rise Farm. Since 2015 Leah has been growing organic produce and specialty crops for restaurants throughout Wichita at the farm’s historic location on East 21st St and North 159th.

In addition to providing abundant fresh produce for the in-house restaurant, bank employees and other restaurant clients, the rooftop farm will serve other benefits too. City centers with square miles of asphalt and concrete create urban heat islands—making already unbearable summer temperatures worse for city-dwellers. Rooftop gardens and green roofs can play a key role in mitigating future warming for city residents, while simultaneously helping absorb excess stormwater runoff. With abundant sun and space, we would love to see more projects like this to make use of unused space, curb building energy costs, and provide fresh food right where people eat it.

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