“Rooftops are an adaptive reuse of urban space that would otherwise go unused.”
By Laura Rothmans
Oct 27, 2016
This is the Brooklyn Grange, a green oasis perched high above the hustle and bustle of the city streets below. Each season, this Brooklyn Navy Yard location as well as the original Grange in Long Island City, Queens, together produce more than 50,000lbs of fresh vegetables and herbs out of just 2.5 tiny acres of space. Customers can find this ultra-ultra-local fare at two weekly farmers markets as well as area-favorite restaurants like Prospect Heights’ James and Williamsburg’s Egg, with whom the Grange maintains wholesale accounts, or through the farm’s seasonal Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.
“This is truly seed-to-plate agriculture, with no use of fossil fuels,” says Anastasia Cole Plakias, Brooklyn Grange’s vice president and founding partner, of the latter program. “People walk over from where they live, and go home with produce that was picked that morning.”
Plakias is leading me on a tour of the farm, guiding me through the leafy green kale, colorfully stemmed rainbow chard, fragrant mint and oregano, and crisp salad greens (not to mention the coop containing a handful of chickens: Chicki Minaj, Birdie Sanders, and Chickira, among others). And though it’s still early on a weekday, we’re not alone: a few of the Grange’s farmers are busy with the morning’s harvest, while a staff member shepherds one of the farm’s weekly ticketed tours around the roof. While many of the hipsters, tourists, and hipster-tourists making up the group head towards the building’s edge to take panoramic photos of the city skyline, plenty of them also snap selfies with the farm’s giant, now-fading sunflowers, or zoom in on closeups of kaleidoscopic aji dulce peppers.