Rooftop & Urban Gardening Conference brings out greenery

Rooftop & Urban Gardening Conference brings out greenery


Last Saturday’s Rooftop & Urban Gardening Conference at the E. J. “Zeke” Giorgi Center, State of Illinois Building brought out city gardeners to harvest some ideas for their own green plots.

Kim Wheeler, executive director of the River District said, “I was delighted with the way it went. The people that went really, really enjoyed the seminars. The exhibitors were fabulous. The State of Illinois Zeke Giorgi Building was just the perfect room for this beautiful conference.

Frank Schier, River District board member and marketing chair said, “Bill Beard, all the committee members and volunteers really did a top-notch job that any city in the United States would be proud to present. The expertise of the speakers was encouraging to greening efforts in our urban areas. If the property owners take to the concepts presented and the city encourages them, we will truly sparkle as The City of Gardens.

“The River District office now has book of materials collected at the conference to act as a reference and resource. I found it amazing that a rooftop garden makes a roof last two to four times longer, and that rooftop gardens save 20 to 30 percent on yearly heating and cooling costs. Add in the increase of property values, and these efforts really make economic as well as aesthetic sense.

“Everyone should thank State Senator Dave Syverson and John Sweeney, county board member and manager of the Giorgi Building. Their facility and staff were excellent and so was the setting. Also, thanks go to Mayor Scott for his opening remarks” Schier said.

Seminar presenters were:

– David Yocca, Conservation Design Forum of Elmhurst, Ill., landscape architect and designer of Mayor Daley’s Chicago City Hall Green Roof Garden. He has been involved in community planning and design since 1985, and with major sustainable development projects such as Kane County’s Mill Creek and Batavia’s Tanglewood Hills.

– Bruce Dvorak, Conservation Design Forum, Elmhurst, Ill., landscape architect working in the creative sustainable approaches to the stewardship of the land and its resources. Project types include urban design, green roof design, landscape restoration and streetscapes.

– Ron Rediger, president/owner of Rediger Associates. He is the Independent Manufacturers’ representative for major suppliers of roofing and waterproofing materials for the past 12 years, promoting the benefits of garden roofs to architects, engineers and building owners.

– Ed Jarger, American Hydrotech, Inc., Chicago, regional sales manager. Hydrotech has been instrumental in the development of their own Garden Roof Assembly and has been active in the promotion and sales of Green Roof methods and materials for 15 years.

– Luke Baros, Home Depot of Rockford, garden landscape consultant and former owner of Baros Landscaping in Barrington, Ill. Mr. Baros has been involved in rooftop and terrace garden projects for some 25 years. He installed a 58,000-square foot rooftop garden in 1983, complete with lake and waterfall, four stories above Lake Shore Drive at the former Regents Park Towers in Hyde Park.

Consultants were:

– Joe Zimmer, architect, building plans examiner for the City of Rockford; project representative for the Coronado Theatre restoration; Red Cross building on Church Street and St. Elizabeth Community Center.

– Richard Hynes, architect, designer of Klehm Arboretum Education Center; consultant in structural, landscape, mechanical and electrical engineering.

– Barbara Larson, University of Illinois Extension. She is actively involved in the teaching of classes in gardening and the Master Gardeners Training Course.

– Judy Shields, “City of Gardens”. She works with the Rockford Park District Foundation’s program to foster civic pride and enhance the attractiveness of the Rockford area.

Visitors were welcomed by Sarah Skorija, president, River District Board; Doug Scott, Mayor of Rockford; and Bill Beard, conference chairman.

Seminars given were: “Urban Ecology and the Design of Rooftop Gardens”—Bruce Dvorak and David Yocca; “Converting a Previously Unusable Roof into a Terrace Garden—Ron Rediger; “How a Garage Rooftop Became a Perfect Country Garden—Luke Baros; and “Total Garden Assembly: Roof Structure through Full Vegetation”—Ed Jarger. Exhibitors were: The Green Quarter, 109 S. Blackhawk Blvd., Rockton; Curb Appeal, 11324 Tara Dr., Machesney Park; Branching Out, 3420 Samuelson Rd., Rockford; Tyler’s Landscaping, 6701 N. Main St., Rockford; Wild Country, 14041 Kelly Rd., Pecatonica; Harmony Water Gardens, 2640 Rockton Rd., Caledonia; J. Carlson Growers, 8938 Newburg Rd., Rockford; Rockford Garden Center, 7753 W. State St., Rockford; Village Green Nurseries, 6101 E. Riverside Blvd., Rockford; The Home Depot, 6936 Argus Dr., Rockford; and Outside Terrace: Forest Nursery, 5347 S. Main St., Rockford.

Special thanks go to Sen. David Syverson; John Sweeney; Lindstrom Travel Bureau; The Rock River Times; Richard Sturm; Kyle and Marge Bevers; Carol Barker; Marty Webb, Home Depot;Andy Hazzard, Wild Country; Kim Wheeler, executive director and the members of the Conference Committee: Sally Bradley; Lynn Rode; Diane Koch; Lori Gustafson, Graphics and Logo Design; Don Bissell, Specialty Computer Assistance; Lisa Palmeno, Volunteer Coordinator and the entire Volunteer Conference staff, especially Channing Brecklin, Pat Ritz, Rick Jones, Barb Lane, Gerry Oehring, John Bystrom, Lynne Rode. Again, extra thanks go to Conference Chairman Bill Beard.

Door prizes were contributed by Rockford Garden Center (large pot container garden); J. Carlson Growers ($100 gift certificate); Village Green (statue of Garden Fairy); and Home Depot (Weber Genesis Silver B grill).

Chicago points the way

Chicago, which recently gained recognition for its own rooftop gardens, has been in the forefront of the green movement. According to an Associated Press story in the Register Star, Chicago officials recently announced that within five years, 20 percent of its electricity would come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. Mayor Richard Daley has been taking the initiative in trying to reduce pollution in Chicago and making it environmentally friendly.

Jessica Rio, spokesman for Commissioner Bill Abolt of Chicago’s Department of Environment, said, “The city is using its purchasing power to help build a market for renewable energy in the region. When Illinois passed the deregulation law in 1997, for commercial and residential customers to start taking advantage of competition, local government also began this year. What we are trying to do is use the purchasing power of the city to get so much electricity… and use greener energy sources in the area.

“We said that we wanted to purchase 20 percent of our energy from renewable sources. The thing that was attractive to us about the agreement we made with ComEd was that they gave us the best price on green energy. But also they agreed to set up a fund to be used to help attract and develop new, green energy sources in the region for wind farms and solar power.”

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