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Convention center grows food on rooftop

Photo courtesy Anaheim Convention Center

ANAHEIM, Calif. – It doesn’t get more local than the rooftop. The Anaheim Convention Center is growing its own food on the building’s rooftop so that executive chef Otis Huemmer can always have fresh, local herbs on hand.

The 2,000-square-foot garden sits on the center’s 1960s box office roof. The garden has an irrigation system, indigenous ground cover and 16 wooden boxes filled with rosemary, parsley, thyme and other herbs.

“If I need lavender for a beef tenderloin dish or parsley for a chimichurri dish we make, I can get it right here,” said Huemmer. “Not when I’m serving dinner for 10,000. But that’s five to seven times a year. The rest of the year, what we yield from here will go a long way.”

A $120,000 federal grant helped reinforce the 50-year-old roof and build planter boxes and a pathway through the garden. The convention center’s manager, David Meek, says he will consider other, larger rooftop gardens, but currently solar panels are planned for much of the space above the exhibit halls. The convention center’s other eco-friendly initiatives include an on-site recycling center, composting center and energy-efficient lighting.

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