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Rooftop Farming: A Visit to Brooklyn’s Eagle Street Rooftop Farm
A warehouse rooftop in Brooklyn is probably the last place you’d expect to see a farm — however this year the Broadway Stages Building burst forth with a burgeoning rooftop crop of fruits and vegetables. Measuring 6,000 square feet, the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is one of the few places in New York you can catch a view of a bed of lettuce growing against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. The farm is an incredible local establishment that boasts a diverse crop of organic vegetables and even maintains a colony of Italian honey bees! Their onsite market — which is open to the public on Sundays — gives any enterprising individual the opportunity to purchase freshly-picked vegetables and learn about the process of organic farming in an urban environment.
Annie Novak and Ben Flanner sowed the first seeds at Eagle Street in April 2010, and since then the farm has become a precedent for the urban farming movement. Their farm also works in tandem with a small community supported agriculture (CSA) program and participates with Growing Chefs (“food education from field to fork”). Novak and Flanner promote their farm by educating the public and offering free workshops that are open to all every Sunday at 2pm. Topics include: bees and beekeeping, city composting, and growing vegetables. The platform is also open every Sunday to anyone interested in volunteering and learning how to maintain an urban farm from seeding to harvest – both beginners and green thumbs are welcome!
The roof was originally designed by Goode Green, who also installed the base system and growing medium. The farm utilizes 200,000 pounds of a mixture of compost, rock particulates and shale, which was lifted onto the roof following engineer approval. The combined materials are lightweight, allowing for proper air circulation and water retention, and the system also does double duty by cooling the warehouse below, ultimately yielding a reduction in cooling costs for the structure.
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