This post is about a founder’s tour and a brown bag lunch on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17th at the BROOKLYN GRANGE – the largest rooftop farm in the United States – which just happens to be a subway ride away in Long Island City, Queens. Brooklyn Grange is at the vanguard of this new agricultural movement and it’s a huge opportunity to get to see it !
URBAN AGRICULTURE. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it ? Aren’t farms supposed to be in rural areas covering vast acreage and having at least a few cool tractors around ? Well, yes, those certainly exist.
But the closest farm to New York City happens to be in … New York City. In Long Island City, Queens – that uber-trendy neighborhood one subway stop from Manhattan. Hey, how’s that for local food !? In 2010, the founders of what was to become BROOKLYN GRANGE, spotted the Standard Motor Products building in LIC, on Northern Boulevard just over the 39th Street bridge in Queens. The building was erected in 1919 and built like a fortress with a solid concrete slab roof and enough rebar to withstand several times the weight of a farm. So, right in the middle (oops, on top) of one of NYC’s most creative, diverse and interesting neighborhoods – and many tons of soil and hours of labor, later – the BROOKLYN GRANGE’s first and flagship rooftop farm was created. Then, in 2012 they added a second farm (this time actually in Brooklyn!) on the 65,000 sprawling square foot rooftop of Building No 3 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And while they were at it, they created BGBees, NY’s first – and largest – commercial apiary (a bee farm!) as well.
BROOKLYN GRANGE is not a flash-in-the-pan, do-gooder, artisanal hipster exercise. It is a working, sustainable, environmentally-friendly commercial enterprise. In this short period of time, it has become the leading rooftop farm and green roofing business in the US growing over 50,000 pounds of organically cultivated produce per year which is sold to restaurants, through the Brooklyn Grange CSA and to the public at farmstands. They also have egg-laying hens and a range of honey products.
Clearly we’re not talking about Ol’ MacDonald’s here. It is a seriously modern, green approach to agriculture which tries to address a range of issues related to food production. Like its carbon footprint – including transportation cost and pollution. Water usage. Yield. The use – or not – of pesticides and preservatives. In fact, a chunk of the funding for the Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard was provided by the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Initiative. The Brooklyn Navy Yard rooftop farm uses and manages over one million gallons of stormwater each year, providing some relief for the vastly overtaxed Red Hook Wastewater Pollution Control Plant, which serves a large area of northwest Brooklyn. This effort also reduces the amount of waste water that overflows into the city’s open waterways.
A farm smack-dab in the middle of an urban environment is, of course, unlike its rural counterparts in many respects. One of which is a higher profile among the large nearby population within its dense, urban community. Brooklyn Grange has focused on this by having a more direct relationship with the public by opening the farm to a range of activities including: yoga classes, farm stands, weddings and other events, a CSA, butcher paper dinners and school programs. Lucky for us, they also offer private tours and an idyllic setting for a picnic lunch.
So, guess what the MWC is going to do? On Friday, October 17th, kick-start your week-end with an activity which is not only unique but revels in the harvest season. The MWC will be given a tour of the Brooklyn Grange’s flagship, rooftop farm in LIC by one of its founders. Then, we will have a brown bag lunch on the rooftop and take in, at our leisure, the amazing scene around us. You can bring your own brown bag lunch, or one (actually in a canvas bag) can be ordered for you from COFFEED – the extraordinary not-just-a coffee-shop “coffee shop” on the first floor of the building which uses Brooklyn Grange produce, roasts their own coffee and has a mission to donate 5-10% of their gross revenue (not income – no Hollywood accounting here) to neighborhood charities. Unfortunately, as you might guess, space is at a premium, so capacity will be limited for this unique event. Something truly great is going on here. Join us and be a part of it.
DETAILS: On Friday, October 17th – check the MWC Calendar for time and location . MWC Members can sign-up for this event in the Reservations / Payment section in the Members site; tickets are $ 27.50, NOT including lunch. A COFFEED (canvas bag) lunch can be ordered for you for $12+tax and tip, probably close to $16. (the sign-up for which will be included in the Tilt Reservation / Payment link). Capacity is limited.