Friday, July 13, 2012

Brooklyn's Rooftop Farms: Unironically Wonderful

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 1:20 PM


Here in the County of Kings, man and beasts plowing vast tracts of farmland was once a more typical tableau than the now common sight of cyclists swerving around car services double-parked on 5th Avenue.

For awhile now, it seemed pretty definite that the days of family-run acres of farmland had vanished for good from within Brooklyn's borders.

But wait!

Even though the days of traditional farming—on, like, the ground—are gone from Brooklyn, there is a new type of farming that is taking place and spreading rapidly all over the city.

The New York Times reports that a new trend in rooftop farming is transforming the city's culinary landscape and is likely to have many positive effects not only on the city's dining scene, but also on its environment.

In keeping with the movement of locally grown, seasonal produce, Brooklyn has kept right on trend with the growth of small farms. Unlike in days past—when I guess real estate was easier to come by (hard to imagine!)—farms are taking root in the only tracts of land available: rooftops.

The benefits to rooftop farming are manifest. Ben Flanner, the head of Brooklyn Grange which is one of the leading rooftop gardening companies, says that while “there are a number of parallels with regular agriculture, what we don’t have are deer or foxes or rodents.” In addition to the lack of wildlife scourges, NYC rooftops offer plenty of sun and direct access to a huge market of consumers who are known to flock to local goods.

In addition, rooftop farming is good for the city's environment at large. The Times reports: "For city officials, the rise of commercial agriculture has ancillary benefits, as well. Rooftop farms have the potential to capture millions of gallons of storm water and divert it from the sewer system, which can overflow when it rains. And harvesting produce in the boroughs means fewer trucks on local roadways and lower greenhouse gas emissions, a goal of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration."

So, this is a great thing.

It is rare that I say that unironically. And that's not because in place of a heart I have a small shard of crystalline matter that resembles the withered and cowering specter of the Authority in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

No, not because of that.

Rather because, lots of times, these trend pieces on Brooklyn only serve to highlight the superficial to such an extent that the take-away can only be laughter and involuntary cringes and wonderment at how so many people can take so many little things so seriously.

But then, a nice story like this comes along, ostensibly ripe for a take down due to all the notes that it hits—bearded foodies growing farms on rooftops etc.

But, really, there's no down side to this.

Utilizing NYC space for something other than stratospherically-priced glass condos?

Finding a way to decrease the amount of trucks on the city's roadways?

Developing a new industry and creating jobs in the city?

Adding to deliciousness?

Yes! Please!

Anyway, my heart grew three sizes today.

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About The Author

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen is the Managing Editor at Brooklyn Magazine and the L Magazine. She has been described as "a hipster buzzword made flesh." This seems pretty accurate.

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