Raising the roof for the local food revolution

11 Apr

5834928694_1b1db4961fIs this reality, or our we dreaming? Growing food on top of roofs in the middle of metropolitan centers, feeding thousands of people off of the harvest, using little to no fossil fuels to transport the food, cleaning the air and providing homes to bees, birds and worms, creating jobs, stimulating the local economy and feeding our communities.

Rise and shine, and welcome to the bright green roofs of Brooklyn + Long Island City!

Bright Farms, a company that grew out of the New York Sun Works NGO which launched the Science Barge environmental education center on the Hudson river, has secured a rooftop space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn that spans 100,000 square feet with the vision of growing over 1 million pounds of vegetables per year! The farm plans to open in 2013.

In the meantime, our friends at the Brooklyn Grange are opening a new 45,000 square foot rooftop farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yards this spring. Their new venture is in addition to their other 40,000 square foot farm in Long Island City where they offer a CSA, a children’s education program, and supply local restaurants with fresh produce. They are also in the midst of fundraising for an apiary project with the goal of managing 25 bee hives year round. These 25 hives will end up producing more than 1,000 lbs of local honey, with the added bonus of pollinating the countless trees and gardens of New York City. Here’s a toast to the rooftop farm visionaries of our dear City!

Photo courtesy of this is awkward

7 Responses to “Raising the roof for the local food revolution”

  1. mamadestroy at 2:12 pm #

    Wow! I am a Brooklyn resident and hadn’t heard of any of these amazing sounding projects. Thanks so much for bringing these efforts to my attention!

    • Our pleasure, you should definitely check them out, they are really inspiring spaces. We will be visiting the Brooklyn Grange for a hands on experience this summer at camp, you should come with!

      • mamadestroy at 7:45 pm #

        I just checked out the info on your website– my kids are only 3 and 5, so not quite in the age range that you are serving– but we will be desperate for fun new things to do over the summer, so if you ever have any events for littler ones, I’d be interested. My year old says that he is going to be a chef when he grows up (and also a gardener, a zookeeper, a dad, and a pirate).

      • Thanks for checking us out! We have actually opened camp up to 4-6 year olds, so maybe your 5 year old would be interested? So sweet about your year old wanting to be a chef, and all those other wonderful vocations! Dream big!

  2. T. Caine at 5:33 pm #

    These are great projects. I’ve also come across Gotham Greens, which has a roof top greenhouse in Brooklyn that is purportedly producing 80 tons of produce a year, I believe. Urban farming (particularly in green house applications) is unquestionably essential to bringing our cities closer to a manageable level of self sustenance. Our agriculture industry levels a huge carbon footprint on our food consumption, especially in places like NYC where getting anything onto the island is a task.

    • Gotham Greens is another great example of rooftop farming in the City. It’s so wonderful to see that their salad greens are being sold by Fresh Direct, and I am sure other markets as well. We attended the Small Farm Summit this past weekend, and heard from Annie Novak from Eagle Street Farm that there are 710k acres of vacant lots & rooftops available for urban farming. Can you imagine that?

      • T. Caine at 10:09 pm #

        I had heard something like that, but I think the number I heard was for green roof potential in the city. 710K acres is huge though. I have to wonder how they measure that. I would guess that it has to do with sun hours for the viability of growing plants rather than necessarily the structure of existing roofs to support farming (which seems like it would require a lot of surveying effort). Either way, it sounds like there is a ton of potential.

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