Picture this: a sprawling, lush, green garden filled with seasonal vegetables and herbs as far as the eye can see. While an upstate farm might be the first place that comes to mind, we’re talking about Brooklyn Grange, a 2.5 acre rooftop farm operation in Brooklyn and Queens.
The largest rooftop soil farm out there, Brooklyn Grange produces over 40,000 pounds of organically-cultivated produce each year. It all began back in 2010 when Ben Flanner and team decided to tackle a Long Island City warehouse and craned hundreds of yards of light-weight soil up onto the roof, then planted their perfectly-mapped out garden of seedlings. Then, in 2012, Brooklyn Grange expanded to Brooklyn, with the opening of a second farm in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.
Now, Brooklyn Grange has sold over 100,000 pounds of vegetables to local restaurants, CSA members, grocery stored, and weekly farmstands. They’ve even expanded beyond produce, keeping egg-laying hens and launching a commercial apiary, cultivating bees for honey.
Since its inception, the rooftop farm phenomenon has landed itself in publications like The New Yorker, ABC News, and The Los Angeles Times. More recently, in The New York Times, Ben described the benefits and challenges of urban farming, from a lack of pests to windy rooftop conditions.
Ben’s bringing his crop knowledge to the radio, with a reoccurring segment on Heritage Radio Network called “Rooftop Farming With Ben Flanner,” discussing topics like beekeeping and tomato harvest.
Brooklyn Grange has changed the way New York thinks about farming, and has utilized otherwise empty space to feed the city fresh and healthy food.
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