Growing Gains

Forest City gets into urban farming with its Terminal Tower rooftop garden.

The filing cabinets hold the tomatoes, administrative assistants moonlight as caretakers, and the IT guy keeps the bees. What's happening on the Terminal Tower's 15th-floor rooftop garden is anything but business as usual.

Forest City employees created the garden in June as part of the company's seventh annual community day. It follows previous green-minded upgrades such as trading wastebaskets for a heavy-duty recycling program and remodeling company properties to be more energy efficient.

But the rooftop garden aims to do more than just continue the conservation trend, according to Forest City vice president of sustainable initiatives Jon Ratner. "There is this notion ... called biofilia," he explains. "[It's] this concept that says people have an innate desire to be in and around nature and that if they are, they're more content."

The almost 50 volunteers are quickly approaching harvest season and hope to donate some of this year's bounty to local food banks. Forest City already plans to double the amount of plants growing high above downtown in 2011. The effort is bearing fruit of another kind as well. "I'm pretty new at Forest City," says Patrick Stoneking, the IT guy/beekeeper. "It's allowing me to meet a lot more people in the company than I probably would have just sitting at my desk."

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