Urban Farming Moves to Rooftops in NYC

For a while, community farms around the city have been gaining popularity – there are now about 600. And especially over the past year, there’s a growing trend: farms are moving to NYC rooftops in most of the boroughs.

Earlier this decade, Chris and Lisa Goode grew a small farm on top of their building in Little Italy (see NYMag article), and eventually made a business in rooftop architecture around the city.

One farm the Goodes helped develop is Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint opened in 2009, a 6,000 square foot urban farm on the roof of an industrial building. They used a crane to put the soil on the roof, and now grow a variety of vegetables and even have an apiary. Read this article from the “Not Eating Out in New York” blog about it.

Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick, Brooklyn, also boasts rooftop greenhouses and a small farm nearby, where they grow their own produce for their restaurant.

Gotham Greens is planning to build the first hydroponic farm in NYC over a church in Jamaica, Queens. According to Viraj Puri, the co-founder and managing director, they’re still waiting to obtain the proper permits from the city, but hope to open by the end of the year. In the meantime, you can read their PowerPoint presentation about how the farm will function.

And Bright Farms Systems, self-described as a “specialist greenhouse design consultancy,” is working with Blue Sea Developments to build a large rooftop farm over a proposed new public housing project in the South Bronx. Also a hydroponic farm, it’s expected to open by spring 2012.

“The greenhouse will use waste heat from the residential portion of the building, and water harvested from the greenhouse roof to provide heat and water needs for the facility, rather than utilizing other sources of heating which have a higher carbon footprint,” said Danielle Gould of Bright Farms Systems. “It’ll be capable of producing annual yield of fresh vegetable needs of up to 450 people, which will come out to 110,000 pounds per year of mixed produce.”

Will the number of urban farms grow? Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is pushing for it. In a report published last month in coordination with FoodNYC, he included a section to ease zoning requirements for people building “rooftop agricultural greenhouses,” and further emphasized the importance of urban agriculture.

And Mayor Bloomberg sent a letter to Mr. Puri of Gotham Greens Farms in June 2009, thanking him for his work with Gotham Greens to build the farm in Queens. He included several areas of how the farm is consistent with PlaNYC, including reducing fuel use and oil production from trucks, lowering the carbon footprint, and capturing stormwater for use in technology.

Categorized | Air, Energy, Land, Water

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vivian.doskow - who has written 13 posts on Explain The Plan.

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