Brooklyn Grange: New York’s One-Acre Rooftop Farm | Civil Eats

Brooklyn Grange: New York’s One-Acre Rooftop Farm

New York is about to become the home to a very big, very high farm. It’s called Brooklyn Grange, and it’s a one-acre rooftop soil farm that our Brooklyn-based team is installing next month on a six story factory building on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.

Modeled after the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the Grange uses bare-bones green roof technology and eight-inch-deep organic soil to grow an array of fresh vegetables on otherwise unused roof space. But unlike the Greenpoint farm and most other urban farms nation-wide, Brooklyn Grange is a commercial operation that will sell its produce and sustain itself fiscally.

The idea is that this will be the first of many farms, and that as we expand to more and more roofs we’ll be able to employ full-time urban farmers and pay them a living wage to grow good food in New York for New Yorkers. Our vision is that eventually all of the structurally-sound roofs in this city and every other city will have edible plants growing on them, and that urban farming will become a viable green industry.

We at Brooklyn Grange realize that the whole idea is rather lofty (apologies for the pun), but we’re doing it anyway. Over the past ten months we’ve been planning, raising money, and pitching our business plan to investors and property owners. We’ve had several landlords reject us, and we’ve rejected a few of them too because they didn’t have the right kind of roof. For a second there we thought that maybe we’d have to wait till next year to launch the farm, but we’re moving forward and installing next week on the best roof we could find, in Queens.

There are forces working against us – gravity and skepticism being among the top few. But despite the obvious challenges that come with getting a one acre, 500 ton urban farm off the ground we’ve gotten an enormous amount of positive feedback and support. New Yorkers want this farm, and they’ve rallied behind us to make sure it happens.

Since our first fundraiser last fall we’ve received small donations from thousands of individuals and dozens of small businesses in the area. We get daily emails from neighbors who want to volunteer and get their hands dirty working on our farm. And it’s because of all this support that the farm has grown from a big idea to a tangible reality.

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We’ve got an acre of green roofing material and 1.2 million pounds of light weight soil mix being delivered next week, the cranes are at the ready to lift it all up, and we farmers are poised – rakes and shovels in hand – to turn it all into a farm.

In a few short weeks we’ll have our opening market and you’ll be welcome to come visit our peas, tomatoes, carrots and kale, but if you’re interested in getting involved and supporting us in the meantime, please visit our Kickstarter page and make a pledge to help us pay for some odds and ends.

For more info about Brooklyn Grange, check out our website.

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Gwen Schantz is an environmental consultant and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her background is in new media marketing and campaigns, and she has experience promoting environmental causes including food and farm sustainability, water conservation and energy supply reform. Read more >

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  1. Congrats to the Brooklyn Grange team for finding a home for their innovative and inspiring farm! I'm heading over to Kickstarter to donate right now, both because I want your business to succeed and because your lead farmer, Ben Flanner, has been an awesome mentor for my rooftop farm in Minneapolis.

    If any of you Civil Eats readers are interested in rooftop farming, also check out Sky High Harvest Rooftop Farm (www.skyhighharvest.com). We're working on building the first of several planned 20,000+ sf, commercial-scale rooftop farms in the heart of Minneapolis.
  2. Interesting post! My question is: When we're growing all our veggies 6 stories or more off the ground, if it's that much trouble to get all that dirt up to the rooftop, what are the logistics of getting them to market? Should we all start living on rooftops? That thought reminds me of Margaret Atwood's book 'Year of the Flood', in which a new age cult, appropriately named God's Gardeners, lived on rooftops along with the veggies they grew. They had composting toilets to make humanure.
  3. Interestingly, my company, Vespro, Inc., on the West Coast has two products that should be on interest.

    One is a drain cell for the roof top; this is critical on a rooftop. It was specified on High Line, the elevated rail yard converted into a park.
    see online.www.vesproinc.com ...called VersiCell.

    The other product is called EarthRecycle raised bed. This is made of 100% recycled plastic. It delivers 11. cu. ft.To increase volume, add a panel.

    It is the lightest raised bed there is. or call us

    1-800-554-0914

    Regards,

    George McCord

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