Riverpark and the Alexandria developer partnered with GrowNYC to manage the small farm. Besides its location on a stalled construction site, what’s unique about the 15,000 square foot urban farm, designed by ORE Design & Technology, is that it is completely portable — all of the plants are growing in black milk crates lined with landscaping fabric that can be easily moved. Farm manager Zach Pickens of GrowNYC says there are a lot of advantages to having moveable planters. They can be rotated for the best sun, and they can be raised or lowered depending on how they are growing. Plus, they can rearrange them make the setting more aesthetically pleasing for restaurant patrons, who will soon have the option to dine in the garden.
The farm has more than 6,000 plants growing on it, an impressive feat for a venture that just began earlier this summer. It is already supplying the restaurant with hundreds of different types of fresh vegetables and herbs like squash blossoms, eggplant, lettuce, and purple basil, where chef Sisha Ortúzar whips them up into delicious dishes. Many of the plants began growing at Wilklow Orchards in the Hudson Valley before being moved to Riverpark Farm. Next month, the construction fence around the garden will be taken down to transform the area around the farm into a unique outdoor dining space with views of the river and the city skyline.
The farm is currently located on the stalled site of the Alexandria Center‘s west tower. When construction on the tower resumes, the farm will not be over, but simply moved to a new location on the 1.1 million square foot campus. Alexandria’s developers are excited about the farm and think that it could be a catalyst for other developers to launch similar projects.
In a few short months, we have transformed a temporarily idle construction site into a productive urban farm – making purposeful use of 15,000 square feet of space until construction resumes on the west tower,” stated Scarlet Shore, Farm Co-Founder and Executive Director of Corporate Strategy at Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. “We are proud to be a part of such an exciting project and encourage other developers to learn from our experience and consider additional, similar projects.”
Given that there are more than 600 stalled building sites in New York City, the Big Apple is ripe with opportunity for more innovative green spaces and urban farms. Here’s hoping that more developers and building owners follow suit!
Images © Riverpark Farm