Emory Knoll Farms

Street, Md.
Founded: 2004
Employees: 11
Revenue 2010: $815,000
Revenue 2011 (projected): $850,000 to $1 million
Ed Snodgrass, left, and John Shepley

Ed Snodgrass, a fifth-generation Maryland farmer, had abandoned farming for management consulting in the late 1990s when he found a reason to go back to the farm: green roofs. Putting soil and plants on rooftops reduces storm runoff and lowers the negative environmental impact of buildings. At that time, however, few nurseries stocked the types of plants best suited to green roofs, which are typically hotter, drier, and sunnier than the garden. With former consulting colleague John Shepley, Snodgrass founded Emory Knoll Farms to supply the green roof industry with hardy plants native to the Mediterranean, Africa, and Asia that can thrive on urban rooftops. "These are plants that evolved to grow literally in these rock fields," says Shepley. The nursery raises plants year-round in greenhouses and sells to roofing contractors across the U.S. and as far away as Japan and Singapore. Many customers are working on government or educational buildings that seek LEED certification. In 2010, the farm became one of the first benefit corporations under a Maryland law that creates a new legal designation for social enterprises. So far the farm has covered 102 acres in 703 green roof projects. —JT
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