Brooklyn Grange is the product of Wisconsin native and Head Farmer Ben Flanner, who in 2009 started the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, the first rooftop soil farm in NYC. Flanner’s interest and passion for farm-to-table food led to a farming team with roots in the restaurant business. The owners of Roberta’s in Bushwick, Chris Parachini and Brandon Roy, as well as restaurant veteran Anastasia Plakias, sustainable food advocate Gwen Schantz, and the team’s first apprentice Rob Lateiner, in addition to dozens of volunteers, all contribute to the farm’s growing success. The team partnered with Bromley Caldari, a NYC architect firm dedicated to problem solving, and Acumen Capital Partners, a private company dedicated to the reuse and sustainable renovation of commercial spaces in New York City. Acumen has leased the warehouse rooftop to Brooklyn Grange for 10 years.
Brooklyn Grange‘s organic produce is grown in 7.5” deep beds with Rooflite soil. Produced by Pennsylvania soil company Skyland, Rooflite is a lightweight soil composed of organic matter compost and small porous stones which break down to add trace minerals that are needed for the produce to grow into a healthy and mature state. The use of organic soil means that everything produced by Brooklyn Grange is sustainable and good for you. The farm had a nine-month growing season last year, and during the winter, they used cover-crops such as rye, buckwheat, vetch, and clove, resulting in a year-round production of organic goodness right in the heart of NYC!
Ben Flanner and his team are community oriented which has helped the young for-profit business succeed. The farmers at Brooklyn Grange hope to reconnect the city to its farms and farmers by improving city citizens’ access to good, healthy food. Ultimately, the team’s goal is to show that urban farming is a viable enterprise and livelihood that contributes to a sustainable economy and the health of the city. The produce is available for everyday New Yorkers as well as businesses, which in addition to Roberta’s include Vesta in Astoria, Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg and many others throughout the city.
Brooklyn Grange is looking forward to expanding to many more roofs to help increase the education and training available to those interested in urban farming. To get involved with the farm, visit Brooklyn Grange’s website.