rooftop farm at the brooklyn grange
I have been obsessed with rooftops since we moved to nyc. I love walking around with my head tilted back, staring up at the skyline. Whenever I spot a nook of a terrace on the 25th floor, or catch a glimpse of a rooftop garden, my heart fills with excitement. I love the juxtaposition of concrete, steel, and glass with trees, flowers, and grass.
If you've read my bio, you know I was raised in the country. Montana to be exact. (There's like maaaaaybe one 6 story building in all of Montana.)
Many people have asked me if I miss the outdoors in New York City. To them I say YEA-DUH, I do. However, I love the city equally as much as I love the great out doors. So while you can't have a small backyard skyscraper in your country home, you CAN have a small terrace farm in your city apartment!
In my opinion, it's actually a really lovely thing when the two coexist.
Like at the Brooklyn Grange.
This rooftop farm spans over 3 buildings' rooftops in Brooklyn. The farm roof we went to hosted greenhouses, a chicken coop, apiaries, a farmers market, huge composting operation, and a farmer's market stand with the seasonal haul. We walked around on a short tour that answered many questions, but left me with so many more! I'm fascinated by the whole operation and hungry to take more classes and get my hands *literally* dirty.
This place defies gravity! I mean, taking an acre of land and raising it 12 stories into the sky. It's amazing. (Fun Fact: I just put on the Wicked soundtrack and completely derailed my post train of thought while I danced to Defying Gravity)
Here are some notes I took from the questions asked:
What're the big differences between rooftop farming from regular ol ground farming?
Roof tops are subject to more erosion bc #wind. This makes it difficult to keep soil in place on the rooftop. They plant crops that hold the soil in well, as well as plant rooting crops like clover in the winter to protect the soil bed. The soil depth is only 8-10 inches and the seeds they use are specifically bred to be more durable for rooftop farms (specifically that the roots hold on better!)
Where does the water go when it drains?
This is fascinating - they use a series of layers to replicate what plants get from the ground, while also keeping structural integrity of the roof and building the farm lives on! The base layer is a think fabric like root barrier to stop roots from penetrating into/onto the roof. Then comes a filter layer with small water catching plates for collecting excess heavy rainfall. On top of that is another fabric layer that stops soil from spilling into drain plates. On top of that sits all the regular parts: soil, roots, plants.
In what ways does roof top farming help the earth?
1. Energy Conservation: all that insulating soil on top of the rooftop keeps the buildings nice and energy efficient
2. Carbon Fixation: more plants = cleaner and more filtered air, obvi!
3. Reduction in Sewage Overflow: this one I didn't realize - but the sewer system in big cities can only support so much, and in heavy rainstorms, etc. plants and any green area help soak up excess water to keep overflows less common. #grossthought
4. Reduces Food Miles Traveled: another great point - most food averages 1500 miles travelled to get to it's final grocery store destinations! that's an unbelievable amount of energy, fuel, and resources spent just transporting food for our convenience. How much better to grow or buy local and reduce that distance to less than 50 miles! Makes sense to me!
What else can you do at the Brooklyn Grange?
1. Tours: you can book a tour on their website and have a guide to ask all your questions. or if you'd rather explore on your own (and skip the $10 ticket) they have the rooftop open to the public 11am-4pm every Saturday.
2. Dinners: there is a huge table where every few weeks, they host a giant communal dinner on the roof. I haven't been to one yet, but I'm looking out for tickets!
3. Classes: explore their website to find all sorts of amazing classes from yoga to hand dying fabrics, and of course many topics within gardening.
4. Farmer's Market with seasonal veggies and preserves: see photos below. It's small but you know it's on site picked and about the freshest you can find!
Check out the Brooklyn Grange website for all the updated calendars and events! If you live in New York and want to take a class sometime, holla at cha girl! I'd love a buddy!
Follow them on insta @Brooklyngrange to keep up with the amazing things they do!