Meet the Brooklyn Grange, World's Largest Rooftop Farm

Photo: Kristine Paulus/FlickrIt should come as no surprise to learn that we're totally into rooftop gardening, because it's a great use of space and a fantastic way to connect people with the source of their food. And, well, you know how some people say "go big or go home"? It would appear that the Brooklyn Grange has taken that ethos to heart, with its formidable two acres of land spread across two rooftops (one of which is not actually in Brooklyn, sorry), producing food that wends its way into the stomachs of New Yorkers through restaurants, a farmstand, and a CSA.

Founded in May 2010 and recently expanded to a second building, the Brooklyn Grange started with modest aspirations: some tomatoes and chard. Today, in addition to producing a huge range of vegetables, the Grange also hosts chickens, bees, a mushroom farm, and a composting program. Employees work with regional schools and outreach programs to provide educational opportunities for youth, while volunteers can hang out at the Grange during operating hours to do some farmwork and admire the stunning view.

The Brooklyn Grange doesn't just focus on its own operations. It also offers consulting services to companies and people around the world interested in starting urban rooftop farms. Using a specialized soil called Rooflite specifically designed for rooftop farming and gardening applications, and working with architects and engineers to set up the site, the Grange grows all kinds of delicious food. "Tomatoes are one of our biggest crops: we have 40 varietals planted. We are also growing salad greens, peppers, kale, chard, bac choi, herbs, carrots, radishes, beans, and many other exciting crops!"

This amazing site is a total inspiration for New York remodeling firms interested in promoting green design when working with their clients. The Brooklyn Grange is the next level up of the rooftop garden: it's not just a nice place to hang out with some plants, it's a working commercial farm that is currently turning a regular profit, improving the surrounding community, and helping out the environment with some pollution-scrubbing plants that improve air quality.

Thanks to a willingness to share expertise, the Grange model can be picked up anywhere people are willing to put in the work to establish an urban farm on a rooftop. Sure, it's a bit of a slog to get all that dirt up there at the beginning, but the payoff is well worth it. The Brooklyn Grange is a testimony to the power of community, dedication, and love of farming.

Visitors are welcome at the Grange from May through October. They can tour the Brooklyn Grange, or get their hands dirty with some volunteer work, should they so desire. It sounds like an amazing opportunity: the next time I'm in New York, I'm definitely going to check it out.

Katie Marks writes for

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