Decoding Design

New York City home to world's largest rooftop farm

New York City home to world's largest rooftop farm

Posting in Cities

Brooklyn Grange, housed on a warehouse rooftop in Queens, is thought to be the world's largest rooftop farm.

New York City is often celebrated for its rooftop views. From famous observation decks to stylish bars, these decks, patios, or even just dirty roofs with lawn chairs give New Yorkers something they covet: space.

What one doesn't picture when they think of a New York City rooftop is a 40,000 square foot organic farm.

Then there was Brooklyn Grange. Built by the Bromley Caldari Architects, it is thought to be the largest rooftop farm in the world. The farm was planted on top of a warehouse built in 1919, and opened in spring of 2010.

Today, the farmers continue to produce organic produce for local vendors that include tomatoes, peppers, herbs, fennel, greens, and root veggies.

Conceived by Ben Flanner, the farm was created in the spirit of farm-to-table dining, and the owners of local restaurants contribute and sustain the farm's flourishing growth. Flanner first started Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in 2009, the first of its kind, and was later inspired to try his methods in a bigger venue.

The produce is grown in beds of organic Roofite soil, produced by Skyland soil company. The soil is lightweight and made up of compost and pourous stones that add essential minerals to the soil, allowing the produce to grow even in shallow beds.

"The goal," according to the farm's website, "is to improve access to very good food, to connect city people more closely to farms and food production, and to make urban farming a viable enterprise and livelihood."

Last year, Brooklyn Grange had a nine month growing season, using cover crops like rye to maintain year round production.

"This is a green space that contributes to the overall health and quality of life of the community," continues their description, "bringing people together through green business and around good food."

The farm is privately owned, yes, but strives to be community-focused and is open to the public. Anyone is welcome to visit, learn, or farm.

The rooftop space that many urban dwellers crave can manifest itself in many important ways. While some offer a view, or a moment of quiet, Brooklyn Grange offers healthy, organic food and a green space that benefits the whole community.

[Via Inhabitat and Brooklyn Grange]
Photo: Brooklyn Grange

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Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure