Last week our new program coordinator, Jailee Rychen, took an afternoon break from the office world of computers and ringing phones and headed out to Brooklyn Grange, a commercial organic rooftop farm located in Long Island City.

full view of Brooklyn Grange

From below, on the street, a passerby would never suspect that up above fruits and vegetables of all types (including 40 varietals of tomatoes, their biggest crop) are being grown and harvested from the 7th floor rooftop of the building.

a view of the Manhattan skyline from the farm

This is not your average city garden, this is a real farm. The experience of visiting Brooklyn Grange, especially for those who believe that the words “urban” and “farming” were never meant to go together,  will alter anyone’s previous notions of the divide between the urban and the rural.  As the farmers on the rooftop tend to their crops, they can also enjoy magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline.

flowering okra plants

Some interesting facts about the farm:

-It is a full acre (40,000 square feet) in size.

-It is made of 1.2 million pounds of ground soil.

-Underneath the soil is a green roof system that prevents the roots of the plants from penetrating the building and also has a system for catching and re-using access water from heavy rain.

-The farm is located in Queens (despite its name) because the location was determined only after the establishment of an LLC.

-They farm 9 months out of the year and in winter they grow cover crops such as rye, buckwheat and clover.

-They also have a chicken coop.

the chicken coop

Brooklyn Grange is also very dedicated to engaging with the local community and providing educational programs for school children, volunteers and others that are interested in learning about urban food production. They sell their produce to the public at multiple farm stands throughout the city (see their blog for information on specific locations) and supply a number of NYC restaurants. The farm also has a composting program that accepts organic waste scraps from the community; you can drop your waste with them at any of their farm stands.

Managing partner and co-founder of Brooklyn Grange, Anastasia Plakias,  gave Jailee a full tour of the farm (and few nibbles along the way). Being up on the rooftop farm is a peaceful experience in an otherwise chaotic urban landscape. It reminds you that even though we live in NYC, it is still possible to find fresh, local produce that has been cultivated and grown right amongst the concrete and skyscrapers of the city.

Brooklyn Grange is open to the public on Wednesdays from 1pm – 6pm.

Brooklyn Grange

37-18 Northern Boulevard

Long Island City

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