The Brooklyn Grange began in Queens when Farmer Ben Flanner started his own small rooftop farm that catered to locals and caught the attention of a few passionate New York City restaurants. Soon enough, a number of farm-to-table fans banded together, gained funding, and opened the first 2-acre Brooklyn Grange on a Long Island City rooftop. The farm was so successful that an even larger plot was sown in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as part of the area’s massive revitalization project.
The farm not only produces food and herbs, but also plays a key role in greening New York City. It insulates the building beneath the crops throughout both hot and cold weather, and captures and absorbs tons of rain water, cutting down on the city’s nasty flood run-off. The Brooklyn Grange is also a farm for all seasons. In the winter months, farmers will plant cover crops like vetch and clover to refresh the soil’s fertility.
Borough President Marty Markowitz is such a fan of the rooftop crops that he plans to make it easier for New Yorkers to get involved and grow their own. “Here in New York, we don’t have acres and acres of land to grow fresh food, and that’s why I’ve been advocating for the changing of zoning laws to maximize rooftop space and open up our borough’s industrial buildings for growing fresh produce.”
The Brooklyn Grange has also gone a sweet step further and included the city’s first and largest commercial apiary. These pioneers in beekeeping have over 30 hives that are expected to produce over 1,000 pounds of honey this year.
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