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With the snow littering the streets like New Year’s Eve debris, it’s hard to imagine planting a garden at a time like this. But you know we never sit still at Söntés! This year, we’re daring to dream big and inspire an entirely new concept in urban gardening and sustainability with our UpRooted Garden Project. We are the first in the nation to attempt a project like this.

Here’s what it’s all about: We’re placing 50 straw bales onto our roof and planting them with different types of herbs and vegetables. Our goal is to provide the majority of the produce needed for the restaurant throughout the summer. You’ve seen our logo: From Farm to Table. Well, we’re not kidding: Chef can literally pick and serve!logo

Here’s where it gets really interesting: Our structural engineer tells us our roof, as is, can handle the weight of our garden. We thought he was crazy, but it turns out, we don’t have to add lots of structure up there to support what we want to do. With the Straw Bale Garden technique, honed by Joel Karsten and overseen by Daniel Heublein and Söntés staff member Bekah, we can plug herbs and veggies into the straw bales for a nearly dirt-free, and thus weed-free, garden. And we’ll reduce our building’s water runoff in the process. No dirt, no weeds, no major weight! (Interestingly enough, the straw bales don’t weigh more than snow. Even our 100-year-old building can hold that weight!)

That’s what makes this project so revolutionary for urban gardens: Regardless of the age of the building or the forethought of adding support to hold a rooftop garden when the building was originally constructed, the Straw Bale technique eliminates the need for expensive structural support. Urban areas that do not have ready access to land for a garden could instead re-envision the empty rooftops of their existing commercial buildings. The impact of this first-ever venture really could be a game-changer for urban gardening. Here at Söntés, we’d love to eventually host special dinners on the roof, or even invite UMR classes to visit and study this extraordinary project. Those ideas aren’t that far off.

skyline[1]In the meantime, the bulk of our costs associated in the project belong to start-up costs and initial equipment (water collection and irrigation system, etc., see project link for more details). Once the initial costs are met, this becomes a sustainable project from this year onward.  There are many levels of donations (starting at $10!) and even sponsorship available. (You can write your company name on the shade cloth, or “buy a bale” and name it after your kids!) The rooftop garden and its shade cloth will be visible from multiple hotels, parking ramps, and from the Mayo Clinic. And Söntés will feature the named bales on the summer menu. You can come in and eat from “your” bale. To read more about this first-of-its-kind project or to donate, please see this link: Söntés UpRooted Garden Project. There are 14 days left for contributions, and every dollar helps us reach our goal!

All of us here at Söntés are excited about this opportunity to bring something revolutionary to Rochester. Thank you for thinking of us and for all of your support over the years in our many adventures!

Come and taste summer with us at Söntés, and help make history!

The rooftop garden schematic was done by 9 Square architect Adam Ferrari.

For more information about blogger Jody Brown, see our Who We Are page.


Join Us for these Upcoming Söntés Events:

TODAY! May 4: Spring Fiesta on the Street!
May 16: Wine Class with Sommelier Barbara Pitcher 6:30 p.m.
(reserve through Barbara ph. 952.358.1285)
May 17: Last day to contribute to Söntés UpRooted Garden Project
May 25: Dinner and a Movie:  A Royal Affair 6 p.m.
(call us for a reservation) 

See the Söntés Happenings page for more information
& watch for future Söntés blog posts
Söntés phone 507.292.1628