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The Boston Globe reports on how a new Whole Foods in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, will offer an unusual feature - a 17,000 square foot rooftop garden that will produce "tomatoes, carrots, kale, chard, marjoram, basil, tarragon, and more," for a yield of around 10,000 pounds of fresh produce a year.

According to the story, "Whole Foods and its contractors say the commercial roof garden is an experiment that, if it succeeds, could encourage other grocers to do the same, boosting efforts to expand rooftop gardening. Such gardens not only insulate buildings, lowering heating and cooling costs, but also decrease storm-water runoff, which can overwhelm sewer systems and carry pollutants into waterways.

"A green roof, however, is not cheap. It can cost up to 60 percent more than a traditional roof, according to the Sustainable Cities Institute, a program of the National League of Cities."
KC's View:
This is pretty interesting. I'm not sure the extent to which a project like this may be adapted by other retailers, simply because of the cost ... but it certainly has the potential to turn a store into a destination shop. After all, many stores have opened up their back rooms so that customers can actually see the bread being baked, the meat being cut, the milk being processed; the story doesn't say whether Whole Foods plans to allow customers up on the roof to see what is going on, but it should.

Part of being hyper-local, which is Whole Foods' stated intention, is allowing people to feel connected to what is going on up on the roof. I hope the company takes advantage of the opportunity.

I think, by the way, that this is generally a good policy, right in line with the calls for transparency often issued in this space. Show people what's going on, explain to them what the value and values are, be completely open about company priorities and initiatives. It simply makes sense. And it is good business.