Edible Rooftops

an urban farming initiative backed by data collection
Powered by Fruit, [Re] and Studio James Brazil


Composed of a rich mix of cultures and beautiful beaches, yet a staggering crime and poverty rate, Miami was the backdrop which fueled my interests from a young age. I began working at my local garden, harvesting an array of subtropical fruits in the notorious food desert.

Collaborating with SJB in 2019, I became a project leader to transform underused rooftops in Miami’s Design District through ecology, data collection, science, and urban farming.



Edible Roofs is an agricultural-tech innitiative to farm 45,000 SF of rooftop space in the Miami Design District. Through scraping arcGIS data, we began to understand the demographics of the neighboring areas, including access to fresh food, schools, crime, and income.

The intention is to sell produce to these communities and to local restaurants, creating an equitable and scalable circular provisioning model for sustainable urban farming.

*In March 2021 this project was approved to continue for three consecutive years, and beginning with a  3,000 SF pilot roof. As of 2022, Edible Roofstops is in its second season of food production and has partnered with 4 local restraurants for fresh food distribution. 


Data Collection

The first step was to research our user research, target area and audience. We knew that fresh food not accessible in many areas in Miami (USDA Food Deserts), but we wanted to pinpoint where they were, who they affect, and how. To do this, we dove into geospatial information system (GIS) mapping. 

Data Visualization

Here I created a series of maps and visual design components to commnicate important figures, relationships, and facts. The information we collected was brought to life with colors, texture, graphics, and visual language.

Drawing Insights

Now we had a bunch of data, but no real output or conclusion. By sieving through key informational points and analyzing their impact on the local and broader community, we were able to define a framework for action, known as  FRUIT (Food Resilience Urban Infrastructure Tools).

Edible Roofs utilizea Food Resilience Urban Infrastructure Tools (FRUIT). Developed by SJB, FRUIT is a set of analytical instruments for improving food accessibility and reducing food waste; thereby improving the economic viability of urban agriculture as a sustainable local food production and distribution practice.

FRUIT is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) research and development accelerator and food security incubator. The computational algorithms assess the technological, political, economic, real estate and social impacts of urban agriculture to generate self-sufficient net-zero solutions for a specific site and target population.

From bottom to top, FRUIT can be read as:

AGGREGATE DATA-raw and metadata collection
MARKET ASSESSMENT-GIS mapping of food supply chain
ENGINEERING ANALYSIS-live District Information Model (DIM)
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT-real-time food system visualizations
NUTRITIONAL PLANNING-bi-directional planning and planting guide
LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION-network of “smart agriculture” farmers
INTEGRATED DESIGN-vertically-integrated design model with built-in risk assessment, customizable evaluation structure, economic forecasting, nutritional and spatial planning tools.

From Concept to Farm

After conducting research, designing visual outputs and frameworking the tool, it was time to get our hands dirty. We began with a 3,000 SF rooftop, where we installed thousands of linear feet of irrigation, layers of soil, mulch, and natural coconut fiber fertilizer and compost, and began to plant our seeds. The journey continues from there.

We seek to install beta-tested sensor-enabled lightweight modular regenerative agricultural system (LMRAS) prototypes of subtropical vertical farming systems, recirculating aquaculture systems, subtropical greenhouses, controlled environment seed banks and Green Power House food-energy-water systems. These systems will be prototyped on the pilot 3,000 SF. rooftop in Year 1, evaluated and modified for pre-fabrication production in allowance of the 45,000 SF. expansion in Year 2. 

Once the LMRAS modules have been implemented, {RE} will install ‘Smart Agriculture’ IoT sensors to measure environmental and performance conditions to include, but not limited to; soil pH, moisture, air quality, artificial/natural UV lighting, energy efficiency, water consumption etc. The LMRAS sensors will be networked separately to the initial rooftop sensor implementation described in Engineering Analysis, both sensor networks will utilize the MDD open Wi-Fi network to send live-data to the DIM, enabling the simulation of fiscal and operational scenarios of the IP.  We will coordinate all input-data generating activities and DIM data into a customized FRUIT platform to create real-time web-based data visualizations to aid IP decision-making processes.

Edible Roofs utilizes the custom built web application platform of CRUNCH (Climate Resilient Urban Nexus Choice for carbon neutral city scenarios) to aid in mapping and assesment. We seek to initiate an incentivized method of data collection called ‘Photos for Aid’.

Working with CRUNCH allows this project to introduce data-driven zero acerage farming innovation, sensor technology, and digital simulation into urban farming efforts, such as creating: an adaptable growing schedule to supplement nutritional and spatial shortages; a needs assessment matrix for local communities, and the reintroduction of productive biodiversity into dense urban zones. I was not involved in the development of CRUNCH (FIU) or FRUIT (SJB) but they are pertinent to Edible Roofs and bringing it all together.

FRUIT Map (Food Resilience Urban Infrastructure Tools)