Brooklyn Grange

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Brooklyn Navy Yard

Brooklyn Grange is a 2.5-acre organic urban rooftop farm in New York City, growing vegetables and honey for local restaurants, markets, and community-supported agriculture. The farms are on two rooftops, one on a 43,000 sq. ft. building straddling Astoria and Long Island City, and the other atop the Brooklyn Navy Yard – the world's largest rooftop soil farm.[1] Together, they produce over 40,000 lbs. of organically-grown vegetables each year.

The Grange also operates New York City's largest apiary, with over thirty naturally-managed honey beehives, which yields approximately 1,500 pounds of honey annually.[2] It was started in the spring of 2010 by former Wisconsinite Ben Flanner, President and Head Farmer, with the help of Anastasia Plakias, Vice President, and Gwen Schantz, Chief Operating Officer.[3][4] The group took out loans, contributed their own money and found investors to fund the project.[5] The Brooklyn Navy Yard farm was financed in part by at $592,730 grant from the NYCDEP's Green Infrastructure Grant Program.[6] In addition to growing and distributing local vegetables and herbs, Brooklyn Grange provides urban farming and green roof consulting and installation services to clients worldwide and partner with numerous non-profit organizations throughout New York to promote healthy and strong local communities.[4]

Background[edit]

Both farms consist of green roof systems laid down before the soil. For the first farm on Northern Blvd, the job took six days of craning 3,000-pound soil sacks seven stories up to the roof. Brooklyn Grange laid down a series of drainage plates distributed by Conservation Technologies. The system is as follows: a layer of root-barrier, which prevents the plants’ roots from penetrating the surface of the roof; a thick layer of felt; drainage mats with small cups to hold excess water from heavy rainstorms (the soil and plants wick this stored water up in dry conditions to keep water use down), and finally, a thin layer of felt to prevent the drainage mats from filling up with soil.[4]

The second farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has a green roof system which consists of a lightweight drainage aggregate, with a layer of similar felt above to filter the solid particles and keep the system together.[4]

The soil is sourced from Skyland, Pennsylvania, a green roof media supplier. Almost a million pounds of the blend called Rooflite, an engineered soil mix that contains no actual soil, was used.[3] The stones make the material lighter in weight and also slowly break down to add trace minerals needed for plant nutrition. The beds are about 8-12″ deep with shallow walkways.[4]

Brooklyn Farmer[edit]

Brooklyn Grange's expansion is documented in the 2013 film Brooklyn Farmer, which premiered at DOC NYC in November 2013.[7] It follows the Brooklyn Grange team as they expand their farm to a second rooftop, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and explores the unique challenges inherent in operating a large, urban rooftop farm.[8] The film goes with Head Farmer Ben Flanner to explore the day-to-day operations of the farm and COO Gwen Schantz to look at the organization as a business. The film was directed by Michael Tyburski and produced by Burke Cherrie and Ben Nabors in association with {group theory}.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "UPDATE: Brooklyn Grange Farm is Expanding to a 45K Square Foot Rooftop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Brooklyn Grange Navy Yard - Gallery Page 2 – Inhabitat New York City". Inhabitat.com. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  2. ^ Rachel Pincus in Food on Aug 2, 2012 2:10 pm (2012-08-02). "First Look At Brooklyn Grange's Massive New Roof Farm At Brooklyn Navy Yard". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2015-04-01. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  3. ^ a b Cardwell, Diane (13 May 2010). "Six Stories Above Queens, a Fine Spot for a Little Farming". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e "About Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm". Brooklyngrangefarm.com. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  5. ^ "Ben Flanner leads army of volunteers as they build city's largest rooftop farm, Brooklyn Grange". NY Daily News. 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  6. ^ "Grant Program for Private Property Owners". Nyc.gov. 2011-02-16. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  7. ^ "New York 'Brooklyn Farmer' premiering at DOC NYC—City Farmer News". Cityfarmer.info. Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  8. ^ "Brooklyn Farmer Premiers at DOC NYC on Saturday". Ediblebrooklyn.com. 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2014-03-27.

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