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Your Chicago: Restaurant Rooftop Gardens

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Uncommon Ground has a rooftop garden used in dishes. (CBS)

Uncommon Ground has a rooftop garden used in dishes. (CBS)

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(CBS) – Everyone knows local food is fresher food, but now Chicago chefs are finding a way to find local food right outside their kitchens.

More restaurants are now building gardens right on their patios or rooftops, CBS 2’s Kate Sullivan reports.

The bustling lunchtime crowd at Frontera Grill speaks volumes about the success and delicious food of celebrity chef Rick Bayless. But what you don’t see is what’s going on several stories above.

A calm, quiet garden is producing some perfectly ripened tomatoes and chilies.

“What people don’t understand is how easy it can be,” Bayless says. “We work in what we call self-watering boxes, so they have a reservoir at the bottom … And then we have them on a watering system so that every day we fill that reservoir.”

The farm-to-table movement is now changing to the roof-to-table movement, where fresh produce can’t get any fresher than plucked from 50 feet away.

At Homestead, a restaurant that prides itself on fresh seasonal organic food, chef Chris Curren is proud of a beautiful and varied garden where the menu changes three or four times a season.

“There’s no substitute for pulling something out of the garden or with seafood pulling it right out of the water and serving it,” Curren says.

At Uncommon Ground, the nation’s first certified organic rooftop farm, you’ll see 22 different crops that quickly make their way into your breakfast.

“Our basil and parsley and chives are going into our rooftop herb omelet right now which is delicious,” gardener Jen Rosenthal says.

There’s more to it than just freshness.

“I think that everyone should grow something,” Bayless says. “Even if it means just a pot of herbs on your balcony or out your back door.”

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