New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Bartender starts roof-top farm on award winning Quince restaurant in San Francisco

Kristin on the roof. Photo by Lou Lesko.

By Kristin McArdle
July 2012


I began working for Quince at the end of January of 2011. During the first few months of my employment I also began taking a Permaculture Design Certification Course and through that class the idea for Vegetable Uprising was born. I had the idea and vision for installing a roof-top kitchen garden at Quince, but I was still a rookie at the restaurant and hadn’t earned enough street credibility with the Tusks yet to pitch the idea. So, I made a commitment to working really hard, getting better at my job, and somehow positioning myself to give them my elevator pitch. The hard part you ask? How was I going to get face time with either of the Tusk’s to present the idea?

Well, that opportunity came when a sign-up sheet for attending the farmer’s market with Chef magically appeared outside the staff locker room. Naturally, I was the first to sign up. I remember waking up at the crack of dawn riding my bike to BART and then riding to the restaurant, the entire time thinking to myself: “Please Kristin, just keep cool, and please don’t blurt out your spiel like a crazy person, wait for the right moment.” Well, I think I did a pretty good job, you can ask Chef, he may have a different memory. I waited to mention my idea until we were pulling out of the gas station in Marin after the market and the topic of conversation seemed an appropriate segue to pitching my business idea. I don’t recall the specifics of what I said, I just remember being overwhelmed with joy when Chef said: “Well, I guess I chose the right person to go to the market with.”

So, I spent the next few months working, going to the farmers market, researching my idea, and putting a proposal together. During this time, Chef won the James Beard award and after they returned from New York, I sat down with Lindsay for the first time and sealed our conversation about the kitchen garden with a hand shake. However, the project got tabled for about ten months and took a back seat to other more pressing improvement projects at the restaurant.

More on her blog ‘Vegetable Uprising’ here.

Project Description

Vegetable Uprising, LLC to design, install and maintain a rooftop garden for the Quince and Cotogna restaurants (the “Project”) located at 470 Pacific Ave San Francisco, CA. The project will provide a variety of perennial culinary herbs, seasonal finishing herbs, lettuces and flowering garnishes for use in both the Quince and Cotogna Restaurants.

Project Construction Points of Interest

The rooftop garden will involve the construction of 38 planters along the entire perimeter of the building rooftop between the support brackets along the roof’s parapet.

Roofing membrane and waterproof protection:

45 mil Ethylene Propylene Diene Rubber (EPDM) food-safe protection layer applied to protect the roofing membrane sourced from the Urban Farmer Store

Drainage plates and Capillary Mat from JDRain will be installed underneath each bed.

Bed Construction:

38 6’ x2’ (12sqft) and 8” installed light weight beds constructed of furring strips thick filter fabric Approximately 456 sqft of planting space

Installed drip irrigation

Planting Medium:
Custom blended soil from American Soil Green roof blend
Light weight material that is custom blended for the growth of culinary herbs
Saturated density of 44lbs per sqft

Product List:

Herbs: Pineapple Mint, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Thyme, Fino Verde, Lavendar, Lemon balm, Anise, Hyssop, Stevia, Purslane, Rosemary, Chervil, Pineapple sage, Dill, Fennel, Chives

Lettuces and Micros: Sulu, Tango, Black Seeded Garrison Firecracker, Minutina, Mache, Sorrel, Purselane

Flowering Garnishes: Borage, Calendula, Trailing Nasturtium Marigold, Viola, Safflower


1 Linda Mack { 07.17.12 at 9:10 am }

Awesome…I am very impressed. Love the idea of totally fresh greens, herbs, etc. Congratulations!

2 Olivia Makumbi { 07.19.12 at 2:07 am }

I wish we could also involve our selves in roof-top gardening in Uganda. The problem is here our roof-tops have to be slanting to allow excessive rain water to run off the roofs otherwise houses would rot! The few houses which had flat roof-tops had to change their shapes to slanting! Any idea how to install roof-top gardening on a slanting roof?