High above the city streets in the borough of Queens, a local farm flourishes. Amidst the noisy traffic and the elevated New York City subway lines, bees and butterflies flutter from flower to flower; dancing to their quiet, everyday rhythm. The Brooklyn Grange flagship farm is beautiful in its contrasting juxtaposition to the city – pervasive, gray mechanization versus bountiful, green nature.
With a majestic skyline view of Manhattan, this urban rooftop farm used to be the world’s largest at 43,000 square foot of fully utilized farming space. Now, it is the second largest in the world, rivaled only by its new sister farm recently erected in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, who graces the clouds at a whopping 45,000 square feet of soil for the growing at 12 stories into the sky.
To give you an idea of how big this is, a typical NFL football field is approximately 58,000 square feet. That’s only about 26% bigger than The Brooklyn Grange. The space remaining (15,000 square feet) between the farm size and a football field could fit a small hotel or a nine bedroom/ten bathroom celebrity-sized mini-mansion. That’s a lot of rooftop!
This revolutionary urban rooftop farm occupies the rooftop, 7 floors above ground level, of the Standard Motor Products building. This building gets its namesake from one of the original tenants, the original American car parts manufacturer. Jim Henson studios also shares this thriving complex. Every Wednesday between 1pm and 6pm, the Brooklyn Grange urban rooftop farm is open to the public free of charge. Come armed with some cash, because fresh, unique produce from the farm is affordable, gorgeous, and at the peak of its perfection!
The Brooklyn Grange uses organic practices in its farming methods, but is not certified organic by a government agency, like the USDA. Nor do they plan to apply for this certification. As stated on the company website, “we grow our vegetables according to organic principles, and we do not use any synthetic or chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides.” Many farms using organic methods share this practice, since applying for the USDA certified organic seal can be cost prohibitive and time consuming.
Now in its third growing season, the Brooklyn Grange offers tomatoes (the very first plants to be indoctrinated into the crop back in 2010), eggplants, ground cherries, salad greens, peppers, kale, chard, bok choy, herbs, carrots, radishes, beans, oh my! “Currently, with over two acres of rooftop under cultivation in Brooklyn and Queens, we’ve sold over 40,000 lbs of vegetables to restaurants, CSA members and directly to the public via weekly farmstands,” states the About section of the website. It also has an apiary with 40 beehives (edited 4 to 40 9/10/12: thank you C. Emmons) that produce drippingly delicious local honey. For bee lovers, the Brooklyn Grange also hosts a program to breed not only local bees, but also local beekeepers! email@example.com
If you’d like to read more about these New York City urban farming efforts or places where their produce is used, please click here!