As our tour guide led us through the bright, clean spaces of the building, it became more and more evident how fitting a rooftop garden is for the Mission. He explained that as part of a program to help homeless men in NY have a second chance, up to fifty men lodge at the Mission for up to six months while they break addictions, get valuable life and work skills, and go through a transformation. “It’s basically like a time out for them,” he explained. “They don’t have to worry about food or shelter while they get their lives back on track.” Not only were we humbled and amazed that the Mission houses such a large number of men for such an extended amount of time (men who are able to get jobs at the end of the first six months can even stay an additional six months), we couldn’t help but see how learning how to grow their own food could really aid in the residents’ own growing process.
The farm itself is still a work in progress and only takes up a corner of the whole roof thus far. But our guide told us that the goal is for the entire roof to eventually be planted. From the number of people on the tour, it was obvious that the Bowery Mission Rooftop has been causing a lot of buzz and several big companies have been helping the farm by providing tricks of the trade, including Whole Foods, who we think knows a thing or two about growing produce. So far, we spotted patches of colorful flowers and beefsteak tomatoes amongst other crops, and we can’t wait to visit again in a few months to see how the farm is progressing.