Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rooftop farm opens

From NY1:

The farm is run by the commercial farming business Brooklyn Grange and is located atop a building on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.

The group says the idea is to inspire New Yorkers to create their own rooftop gardens by informing them of all the perks.

Local officials praised Brooklyn Grange’s initiative.

"It makes sense on every level,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “It's locally produced, locally farmed, that will be sold locally."

Farmers cultivate a wide variety of vegetables ranging from salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, squash and kale.

The farm sells its produce to city restaurants, at two markets at the building on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and at Roberto's in Bushwick on Sunday afternoons. It also plans to sell at Vesta in Astoria on Saturdays.

For more information, go to


Anonymous said...

A gimic.

Zero Population Growth is the only answer.

georgetheatheist said...

How much vegetables can you grow on a roof to make it economically viable?

I've got 15 tomato plants in my back yard. It's zen-like watching them grow and then eating the tomatoes. But I always have second throughts when I see the Jersey tomatoes at the store in September. All that work for a few tomatoes when they can be had much more plentifully and cheaper in the commercial stands. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

i think the termites will take care of that buildings wooden beams ,then the garden will be in the next floor below.

Anonymous said...

I hope the roof can hold the weight.

Babs said...

I don't think this is good idea for the structure of the building - but, time will tell.

George - start your tomatoes from seed rather than buying the more expensive seedlings.

As well as economical - it's more fun since you can save seeds from favorite plants from year to year - start them inside under a growlite in March - put them outside after the first frost -

georgetheatheist said...

Babs: I used to do that. I've got the grow lights and the little seed trays - the whole nine yards. Starting in March, day in and day out watering the little critters. It's too labor intensive. It's cheaper to buy the veggies on the fruit stands in September. The only reason I grow tomatoes (& cucumbers & flowers too) is that it's restful to the soul. It definitely is not economical.
All that work up on the roof in Long Island City for a handful of vegetables. I give it a 50% chance of being repeated next year and then the whole venture goes kaput in 2012.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you're doing wrong, georgieporgie, but every time I've grown tomatoes (or cucumbers, or basil, or what have you) it's been totally "economically viable." Sure, there's an initial labor investment and "sweat equity," but all these basic veggies and herbs grow pretty well on their own if you don't do something horribly wrong to screw things up. Romas will produce and produce until you've got so many left over you've got to can for the winter.

And then there's your point that gardening is good for the soul. And satisfying to eat something I've grown myself. And comforting knowing where my food is coming from and what chemicals were or weren't used in production.

Sure, it's easier to buy these things at the store, but then we've totally relinquished control over our food supply. And to whom? The gods of big agribusiness? Come on... you're an atheist, aren't you?

georgetheatheist said...

How much VOLUME vegetables can you get from the roof of a building on Northern Boulevard in LIC? As opposed to acres and acres of farmland where vegetables are produced for the masses. You harvest all that roof stuff, eat it or sell it, and then what? A modern day miracle of the loaves and fishes?

Babs said...

The link shows a good-sized community garden type farm - similar to or larger than those in Manhattan's unused street lot conversions.

What about the apartments directly under the farm - I would think they would be vulnerable to leakage or worse - mildew, mold and rot. oh well - its done so good luck to them.

George - I have a recipe for you.

At the end of the summer - cut up some of your tomatoes in small bite-sized pieces. Sautee garlic in olive oil for two minutes and then add the tomatoes and a good bunch of basil leaves. Cook until basil is wilted. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with pignoli nuts (and of course grated cheese) . . . YUMMMM!

Another variation would be to add Brie cheese while the entire dish is nice and hot (and minus the nuts) - the Brie melts into a creamy cheese sauce . . . YUMMMM!

By using your tomatoes in this way you are being more economical. If you are just adding a tomato or two to a salad everyday - then I agree with you George - you're better off at the local fruit stand.

I also give away many of my tomatoes at the end of the summer to family and friends - so from 10 tomato plants (plus two cherry tomato plants in large pots) - I have MORE than I can use.

Detective McNutty said...

Last time I looked at their website, they seemed to base their business model on the college co-op health food store. They actively sought sponsors, fundraisers and volunteers as labor. If they don't have to pay workers I guess that is one way to make it commercially viable. It is basically slavery in the guise of a community garden.

Anonymous said...

georgie, you are expending WAY too much energy on naysaying and poo-pooing. Maybe you atheists should mind your own business if you've got nothing nice to say about people who are enjoying life. Eh?

Do you know anything about BrooklynGrange or the property they're using for the rooftop farm in question? My guess is you don't. So, for your edification, 37-18 Northern Blvd is a HUGE building with lots of roofspace. (And Babs, it's an industrial building with office space, so there are no residents underneath.) Brooklyn Grange has a market where they sell the product of their rooftop farms. You ever heard of the greenmarkets in NYC? They actually have customers lining up to buy locally grown produce. So this can actually be economically viable.

And if it isn't, what do you care? Go back to staring zen-like at your "labor intensive" underproducing garden.

georgetheatheist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Babs said...

George - thanks for the invite. There IS such a thing as too much of a good thing - I don't know what I would do with someone else's tomatoes in addition to my own! I do make a great salsa too with them!

I plant my tomatoes the old fashioned way - in my garden soil which I add organic goodies to - like manure!

WHY was that other post removed?
I wanted to thank whoever it was for bringing to my attention that the veggies are grown atop an INDUSTRIAL building rather than a residential one like I had originally thought. . . oh well.

Anyway - I believe that this venture will BLOSSOM and reseed itself on other city rooftops!
(Sorry couldn't resist the play on words. . . . )

Anonymous said...

"go rinse out a tuna fish can and recycle it and beam at yourself grinning ear to ear in your mirror"

now that is funny

Klink Cannoli said...

I still wouldn't eat anything grown in that crappy air quality. Right above the busiest boulevard in Queens in the heart of a commercial/manufacturing area? No thanks.

I'll stick to real farms out on the Island or points north and west.

linda said...

wouldn't you be more concern about the roof caving in? all that dirt can't be good..

Anonymous said...

"Greenmarket" produce is not grown on small rooftops.

Says you.
And once again, since your reading comprehension seems to be failing you, this is not a "small" rooftop.
I was just making the point that people are willing to pay for locally grown or micro-farmed produce rather than the mega-scale industrial farming that you can't live without. So crawl back into your Archer Daniels Midland hole, georgie.

And your non sequitur about the tuna can... again, you're only representing the "party of no." That doesn't make you cool, grandpa grumpy. It makes you a dinosaur. Or a nattering nabob of negativism.

...trying the latest fad? ... at the local Home Depots alot in the spring. I gave up on fad growing years ago... [yet, contradicting himself,] Last year, I bought one of those hyroponic indoor growing contraptions for tomatoes - from Bed & Bath... blah blah blah... growing things is too much work...

So you fail as a farmer. You fail as a gardener. You're too lazy to make it work out. And you wish failure on anyone else who tries. Congratulations! You're the torchbearer of the American dream.
You represent Queens Crap well!

Please proceed to rain on picnics across the land.

Anonymous said...

Now, if Brooklyn Grange, or anyone for that matter, could figure out how to grow tasty tomatoes in the winter volume-wise, I'd be the first to sign up.

Which brings me to another point.
We have seasons on this planet. Maybe for a reason, maybe not. That's for the more religious to argue. Regardless, living in concert with the seasons is an idea worth considering.

Just as you expect NY to produce tomatoes for you in the winter, do you also heat your house (apartment) to 80 in the winter and cool to 70 in the summer, or do you allow some of the seasons to infiltrate your life? Veggies also have seasons, and are best enjoyed when naturally at their prime.