Get your green thumb on, urbanites, rooftop farming is on its way and is here to stay!  Leading the charge is Rooftop Farms, a Brooklyn-based operation that has created the nation’s first commercial garden constructed on top of a building.  The 6,000 square foot farm lies above an old bagel factory in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn with incredible views of the East River and Manhattan skyline…. mucho gusto!

If you know anything about green roofs or urban agriculture, you recognize the process involves a bit more than laying dirt, planting seed, and wishful thinking.  Structural engineers are actively involved to gauge how much weight a building can support, and up to 15 layers of membranes are installed for water permeation, root containment, etc.  Helping with calculations and installation for this project was Goode Green, a NYC firm that focuses exclusively on green roof design and application.  They coordinated cranes to lift 100 tons of soil onto the rooftop, and billed $60,000 for installation + dirt.  Once the earthy brown stuff was laid to rest, farmers tilled 16 beds four feet wide and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and various other delicious veggies.

Check out this cool stream of photos showing the process of installation:







Photos via Goode Green

6,000 square feet of gardens produces a lot of good, tasty food… Since Rooftop Farms can’t eat all that grub themselves, they partnered with a handful of local restaurants to supply them with their veggie needs.  This obviously has a lot of benefits.  The average piece of food here in the states travels 1,500 miles to get to our grocery store, tying food costs directly to gas costs, not to mention all the pollution that results from transportation.  Urban agriculture eliminates these impacts and gives money back to the local community.  In addition to working with local food suppliers, weekly markets are held in front of the building to get produce into the hands of residents in the area.  Rooftop Farms is also using their innovative project for educational purposes.  They often open their doors to organizations and schools, and people can sign up to volunteer their time and help out at the garden.

Besides growing food closer to hungry mouths, greening our rooftops creates several other benefits.  The vegetation absorbs a lot of rainfall, keeping it on site and away from sewers where it picks up garbage and oil on its way…. this saves water treatment facilities a lot of money.  There’s also this thing called the heat island effect that not many people know about.  Cities are generally about 5 degrees warmer than their rural equivalents, as heat reflects off of hard surfaces like asphalt… Green roofs cool cities down, and that’s cool.

To learn more about Rooftop Farm’s mission, or to volunteer some of your precious time (and enjoy a rockin’ view!) click <HERE>


About Joshua Foss

Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.