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FreshKids Foodie Visits Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn

BY BETH BECKMAN | www.lilkidbigcity.com

It may be only a few minutes from Manhattan, but it’s a world away from the concrete city up on this green roof.

Located six stories above, on top of an unassuming industrial building in the Brooklyn Navy yard, is one of the greatest achievements in rooftop agriculture.

The world’s largest rooftop farm. Right here in New York City.

We recently had the opportunity to tour the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop; and the farm is as incredible as its views of Manhattan.

Situated in-between concrete structures and skyscrapers, the 40,000 square foot organic farm produces everything from tomatoes, beans, peppers and kale; to root vegetables such as beets, carrots and radishes. Beyond produce they also grow a mix of flowers, have their own bees, and even house a chicken coop.

Brooklyn Grange sells the organic produce to local chefs, stores and markets, and also plays host to amazing events – such as corporate dinners and weddings. They also work with many non-profit organizations throughout New York to promote healthy local communities.

How does one farm on top of a building?

Not an easy task! We learned that it took over 1.2 million pounds (!) of soil to create the acre farmstead.

So much soil that cranes had to assist to lift and place the soil. So much weight that architects had to add tulip beams to the buildings structure to withstand the mass of soil.

This, combined with the weather elements of wind and rain, and figuring out the perfect roof-friendly blend of specialty nutrient rich soil was quite a the learning experience and a story that Brooklyn Grange is more than willing to share. Their hope is for others to learn from the experience and replicate more farms like this all over the world. They are also dedicated to providing educational programs for children, volunteers and others that are interested in learning about urban food production.

Brooklyn Grange is actually behind two of the largest rooftop soil farms– one here in the Brooklyn Navy yard and one in Long Island City Queens.

Long Island City is the first flagship project – the Brooklyn Navy Yard the second. Together they grow over 50,000 pounds of organic produce a year.

Beyond the yummy produce – the benefits are incredible. Urban Farms can potentially produce more food per square foot while using less water and power than conventional fields. They bring momentum and unite communities, providing delicious produce to areas where there is no opportunity for farming itself.

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The views overlooking Manhattan from the roof are incredible.

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Lil Kid intently listening during the tour.

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The beautiful scene. I couldn’t stop marveling at the massive size of the farm.

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Lil Kid holding his stomach – “Mommy I’m getting hungry!”

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Our tour making its way through the vegetable rows.

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Lucky for us it was a pepper isle! Lil Kid couldn’t help to stop and check out the bright peppers.

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The tour also included a visit to the greenhouse.

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The meticulous rows of microgreens were amazing to see.

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Brooklyn Grange is also supported by CSA, Consumer Supported Agriculture. Currently the farm has 25 members. The members pay for a season in full – and collect harvested produce once a week.

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Lil Kid making friends.

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The wild flowers were actually not wild at all – we learned that a local florist maintains them for her business.

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Lower Manhattan’s skyline served as the farm backdrop.

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Lil Kid following along the sunflower path. The gigantic sunflowers towered over him.

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The sunflowers had the best view on the roof.

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Hand in hand through the farm.

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At the end of the tour – a chance to help support the farm. This beautiful jar of honey made it home with us. (And later into our bellies.)

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An experience we will never forget.

To learn more about Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, please visit http://brooklyngrangefarm.com/

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