Coombs Old Country Market, Coombs, B.C., Canada Canada

Green Roof

Created at: 29 Apr 2022


Coombs, B.C. is a small community north of Nanaimo, B.C. It has a Mediterraneanlike climate with little rain in the months of July and August. The community centers around the Coombs Old Country Market, which was built in the early 1970s. The Old Country Market is a general store and restaurant that has several additions and new buildings that together make it a significant green roof cluster of old-world sustainable architecture. The green roofs on the market were originally built in 1976 by Kristian Graaten and his wife Solvieg who emigrated to Canada from Lillehammer, Norway in the 1950s (Firestone 2013). Kris learned the sod roof construction methods from his grandfather in his native land of Norway. The number of green roofs in Coombs expanded over the years with new additions to the multiroofed building and new buildings on the grounds including additional stores, restaurants and storage sheds, and a small tree-fort condominium for the goats. The green roof on the store has been made famous by the addition of its pygmy goats, who maintain the rooftop meadows (Fig. 10.7). Legend has it that the grass on the roof was overgrown and the Coombs County Fair was near in time. After a few glasses of wine, the family settled on an agreeable approach. The idea of maintaining the overgrown grass on the roof with goats emerged (Firestone 2013). For several decades now, the grassed roofs have kept this old-world style sod roof maintained, and famous. The green roof and goats are a top destination site on the Island. The sod has been replanted at least once since its initial installation. All of the construction was done within the family and later with the aid of new building and store management. Construction of the green roofs originally included 15.24 cm (6 in) of native soil beneath the sod. Today only half the initial soil remains on the roof of the market store, but they have found that soil builds over time due to the fertility of the roof vegetation and natural fertilization by the goats. The original waterproofing was a rubber roof, and the most recent re-roofing in 2009 included an EPDM membrane. Plant Establishment The original soil and sod were from nearby the site. The sod for new construction and replanting of the main store that took place around 2009 came from a local landscape provider. Local grasses (fescue), clover, and meadow species. Irrigation The green roof on the old market store receives irrigation during periods of summer drought. Maintenance The goats live on the roof from April to September (Fig. 10.8). When not on the roof, the goats live on the ground on a small preserve out back. If the roof is overwatered, sometimes the goats can tear up the turf. The grass receives no artificial fertilizer, only manure from the goats. None of the other five green roofs are irrigated, thus experience summer dormancy (Fig. 10.9). Observed Wildlife Bees and crows are frequent visitors to the roof. Post-occupancy Observations Owners • When the sod roof was first built, there were no sedum roofs in Canada. This old-world style sod grassed roof was the norm in Lillehammer, Norway. Today, after decades of development of building techniques, standards, and codes, there is some pressure to upgrade construction methods when new green roofs are proposed on the campus. • When the sod becomes too wet, the goats can tear up the grass. • The goats do a good job of keeping the grasses trimmed. They are well-behaved and cause little issue regarding their presence near the public.

Authors’ Reflections • This project demonstrates the simplicity and longevity of a grassed green roof. • The maintenance of the green roof by goats is novel compared to industry standards, but could possibly be replicated on other green roofs as a viable and popular approach. This method could possibly apply to larger grassed green roofs, where mowing or trimming by maintenance crews is not feasible.

Samenvatting (Dutch description)

groen dak uit 1976 op Coombs Village Centre

Building Owner/Client: Coombs Old Country Market Green Roof Design Team Lead: Kristian Graaten, his wife Solveig, and their sons Svein and Andy, and son-in-law, Larry. Maintenance Contractor: Coombs Old Country Market staff Project completion: since 1976 Green roof area: 10,000 m2 (107,640 ft2) on several green roofs

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