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A Farm With A View: Brooklyn’s Rooftop Farms

November 20, 2009

Green roofs provide an incredible number of benefits: lower heating and cooling costs, less storm water runoff, reduction in heat island effect, habitat for birds, bees and bugs, and a longer lasting roof are just some. And now, Annie Novak and Ben Flanner have added another benefit to the list: food production.

photo via Rooftop Farms

High above the streets of the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, founders Annie and Ben along with a team of volunteers have planted a 6,000 square foot urban garden, named Rooftop Farms. Over 200,000 pounds of soil were dumped by crane atop an old warehouse building (used for movie productions) earlier this year. The design and construction of Rooftop Farms was overseen by Goode Green, a green roof design and installation firm.

The rooftop farm has successfully grown a selection of 30 different vegetables, fruits and herbs which they sell at a farmstand to residents on Sundays and deliver to local restaurants like Marlow & Sons by bicycle.

Check out this video to learn more about the project:

Earthworms, birds, bees and a number of bugs have since returned to this city ecosystem where concrete used to rule. Stormwater that used to flood drains and dump out in the ocean is now fueling the growth of tomatos, cucumbers, kale, lettuce and many other plants. Restaurants that used to import produce from different corners of the world can now receive fresh ingredients with the tiniest of carbon footprints.

Though the idea of ‘urban gardening’ has long been around, it is usually relegated to small window boxes of basil, or a wilted tomato plant on a fire escape. The Rooftop Farms project is incredible due to its scale, its success and its ability to foster a sense of community. Hopefully this model will help lead a movement in urban living and farming so that someday when we fly over New York, we will see a carpet of green. We will have converted the city’s vast landscape of roofs into gardens, farms and parks.

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