A Sneak Peek into an NYC Rooftop Farm

by Caila Yates

It’s no secret – New York City is a pretty crowded place.  There’s not exactly a lot of room for construction, so people have had to get a little bit creative in searching for some unoccupied real estate.  Think: ROOFTOPS!  They are not just for swanky bars and restaurants with a view anymore.  Believe it or not, they are now being used to produce the food that goes to some of these restaurants.  That’s right – rooftop farming is taking the agricultural world by storm, and two of the biggest rooftop farms in the world can be found in NYC.

Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm planted its roots (literally!) about five years ago in Long Island, and has since expanded to a second roof in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  Between their two farms, which is around 2.5 acres, 50,000 pounds of organic vegetables are grown there each year.  Among these are salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, carrots, herbs, and more!

Why is Urban Farming Important?

Less Gas Emissions:  Due to the lack of farms in urban areas, many food vendors import their produce from rural areas and other countries by plane, train, and automobile.  According to the National Resources Defense Council, the typical American meal contains products from about five different countries.  That’s a lot of gas being used to transport food.  While this is still a problem, Brooklyn Grange is combatting the issue by delivering their produce to a number of local restaurants.  Because BGRF is right in the middle of the city, the produce doesn’t have to travel very far to get to these eateries, therefore decreasing gas emissions.

Energy Saver:  Since they reside on top of existing structures, rooftop farms provide extra insulation for the buildings below.  This reduces the need for heating and cooling in the buildings, and therefore reduces the amount of energy being used.

Strengthens Local Community: Urban farming brings people together. It’s that simple. From the regulars at the farmer’s market to the CSA members, people like knowing where their food comes from, and knowing who grows it.  The farmers at BGRF know their clients by name, and establish relationships with each and every one.  It is this kind of mutual respect that creates such a strong sense of community in such a large city.

Supporting Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA):  No one likes going to the grocery store.  It’s just not fun to weave in and out of overcrowded aisles on a hunt for some week-old salad greens.  But what if you could come up to a farm once a week to pick up your groceries from the farmers that harvested them that morning?  You’re in luck – The Grange offers a CSA program each growing season that provides its members weekly with the first pick of their fresh, organic vegetables, and even some recipes to go along with them.  You can sign up to receive your CSA share here!

Eat Locally:  The Grange delivers their fresh vegetables to 22 local restaurants in NYC each week.  Check out these eateries, and get a taste of what BGRF is all about:

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