Brooklyn Grange is the largest rooftop farm in the country (and possibly the world), spanning some 40,000 square feet atop a former industrial building in Queens. The farm produces everything from beets to beans plus 40 other herbs and vegetables. The Grange is dedicated to using organic principles in the growing process, however they are not certified organic by the USDA and has no plans to do so because this often leads unnecessary increases in costs. They believe that using natural growing techniques should be standard when trying to help create healthy and sustainable cities.
Added Value, located in Red Hook Brooklyn, is a non-profit farm dedicated to nurturing future generations through a variety of training programs geared towards 14 to 19-year-olds living in southern Brooklyn. As one of the oldest urban farms in the city, Added Value has played a major role in transforming vacant lots into urban gardens and improving access to local, healthy and affordable food for Brooklynites. The farm, which uses raised beds, has “three main incentives: growing a just food system, youth empowerment, and farm-based learning” and has year-long training programs for nearly 115 neighborhood teens.
Tenth Acre Farms
Tenth Acre Farms had a humble beginning in the backyard of co-founder Jordan Hall’s apartment. Since 2009 though, the trio of farmers have expanded and have taken over an abandoned basketball court at St. Cecilia’s School in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Like all the farmers on this list, Tenth Acre’s main goal is to provide the freshest and healthiest vegetables possible to the citizens of NYC.
Using organic growing methods means all the produce is free of harmful chemicals, however, like Brooklyn Grange, Tenth Acre has no plans to become USDA organic certified. Tenth Acre Farms also uses raised beds for growing which allows for a 3 to 4 week increase in their growing season because the soil cools faster in the summer and takes longer to chill in the winter. The Farm is open to visits and the team encourages folks to come check out what’s growing right in their backyards!
Battery Urban Farm
Newcomer, The Battery Conservancy’s turkey-shaped urban farm had its very first harvest in mid-May, starting the season off right with some delicious radishes, grown by local students. Inspired by the park’s resident turkey, Zelda who appeared at Battery Park back in 2003 from an unknown location, the farm is protected by 5,000 repurposed bamboo poles in the shape of the fowl’s silhouette. The posts were donated by artists Mike and Doug Starn following their exhibition, Big Bambu at the Met, and local designer Scott Dougan created the fun fencing.
The urban farm will provide outdoor classroom space for local schools across the city, including PS 276, PS 896 and Millennium High School’s Environmental Club, who were all there to help at the open ceremony back in April. This is the first farm at the Battery since 1625, back when New York was still New Amsterdam. We look forward to the harvesting of 20 local vegetables including broccoli rabe, turnips, and summer squash.
While Gotham Greens had its first harvest this month, the hydroponic greenhouse has actually been an on-going project for a couple of years. Winning the New York’s Green Business competition last year gave the trio the extra boost they needed to get the impressive greenhouse project underway. The greenhouse, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, will produce 80 tons of herbs and veggies throughout the year.
Because the greenhouse uses hydroponic techniques to grow its goods, less square footage is required to grow 7-8 times more food than traditional soil farming. Another plus for growing in a greenhouse is that the growing season never ends. While the other farms on the list grow traditional fall vegetables, Gotham Greens has the advantage of growing summer veggies in the middle of February, giving some green to a usually barren landscape.