The Brooklyn Grange: A Farm up on the Roof

A Farm up on the Roof

Up On the Roof: Urban Rooftop Farming and The Brooklyn Grange

So sometimes something inspires me so much that it makes me want to run to the rooftop of my eastside L.A. apartment and shout out at the top of my lungs "LOOK AT THIS, THIS IS AMAZING!". The Brooklyn Grange is one of those kinds of things.

The Brooklyn Grange is the dream of five farmers in Brooklyn who were out to set a record: to plant the largest commercial rooftop farm in New York City. Recently this dream became a reality. On May 12th with the aid of a rented crane and lots of excited volunteers the Grange team hauled 1.2 million pounds of a soil and compost shale mix from Pennsylvania to the top of a six-story warehouse building in Long Island City, Queens.

The story of how they got their garden spot is a tale of whale like proportions. In February, after working at a break neck pace over the last year and a half to raise capital, resources and support for their tremendous farming project the team found out that not only had they lost one of their primary investors but also their space. The economy had taken a tole on their investor, while their gung ho landlord (who had been involved from the beginning) got cold feet and left the Grange crew metaphorically standing at the alter, seedlings in hand.

Not to be dissuaded after the initial shock wore off, they hit the ground running. Each took a different corner of a map from Brooklyn to Queens. With the winter frost waning and time at a premium each moment of the day was filled pitching to new investors or climbing up ladders and staircases trying to find a new home for the garden of their dreams. By Easter they had scrounged up the cash, but the home that they were searching for still eluded them. Just as it looked like The Brooklyn Grange was going to have to wait one more year, fate stepped in and they found their great white whale hiding in Queens. Meet The Brooklyn Grange, soon to be the largest commercial rooftop farm in New York City, at  37-18 NORTHERN BOULEVARD, QUEENS, NY!

Now that the soil has been transplanted the group is now planting the first of its crops. Many hands make for light work but with Lettuces, tomatoes, cabbages and kale galore there is still much work to be done. About a 10th of the acre space has been completed as of Saturday, May 22nd but the Grange farmers are confident that the instillation will be complete by the end of this week. Slow and steady always wins the race. Once The Brooklyn Grange is complete it will sell fresh, organic and affordable food to the local community, contributing to the health and economic development of the neighborhood.

The Brooklyn Grange still needs help from people like us. With tools to purchase and an irrigation system to install the Grange crew has set up a Kickstarter account where you can donate to the project and watch a sweet video. I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter account and pass along their story to your friends. I will definitely be making a donation and who knows maybe one day the rooftop that I like to shout cool things from, will someday become become The Los Angeles Grange.

Happy Eating!

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