Posts tagged with "Brooklyn Grange":

Placeholder Alt Text

Archtober Building of the Day: Brooklyn Grange Farm

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today’s Archtober Building of the Day tour took us to Brooklyn Grange, located on top of Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 3. Once we had assembled on the 11th floor, with its sweeping views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, Gwen Schantz, co-founder and CEO, took us around the intimate yet extraordinarily productive farm. Schantz, who heads the farm’s landscaping division, revealed not only the specific agricultural details of the farm but also how they have managed to turn urban agriculture into a viable business model. Brooklyn Grange’s roots date to 2009, when Ben Flanner, now president, quit his job in finance to open Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn. One year later, joined by Schantz and other partners, he opened the organization’s permanent foothold in Long Island City; they soon after added the location in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The organization has since become a worldwide leader in urban agriculture efforts. Central to Brooklyn Grange’s mission is to do more than just grow food. Schantz went so far as to describe it primarily as an educational center, facilitated by City Growers, an educational nonprofit that Brooklyn Grange (which is for-profit) founded but has since spun off. Schantz emphasized that it would be extremely difficult to turn a profit solely by selling produce, but that Brooklyn Grange stays financially feasible by designing gardens and landscapes and hosting events. Rather than seeing these aspects as a necessary evil, Schantz described them as equal to the agriculture department. Brooklyn Grange’s goal, she said, was to show that urban agriculture can be a viable enterprise—a goal which has been amply met. As we walked around the farm, Schantz described the its physical makeup. The farm uses a soil mix of 50 percent is expanded shale, which is put in a kiln and broken up slightly to be porous, almost like coral. This allows small organisms to live in the soil, a central aspect of organic farming. The other 50 percent of the soil is a compost mix sourced from mushroom farms in Pennsylvania. Schantz said that Brooklyn Grange have found they can grow almost any crop in about a foot of soil—a surprisingly thin layer. That is not to say that they do grow any crop. Brooklyn Grange focuses on more profitable crops, primarily lettuce. However, since selling directly to the community is an important part of Brooklyn Grange’s mission, and since crop rotation is a key aspect of organic farming, they do plant other crops as well, such as tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli. During the off-season, employees organize events and work on the other elements of the farm. According to Schantz, the roof of Building 3 is perfect for a farm, as it was used to support extensive Navy training installations and is therefore extremely strong. To create the farm, a large hose connected to a mixer truck sprayed the roof with the first layer of soil. To augment that original soil, Brooklyn Grange regularly brings additional soil up in the freight elevator, another useful original feature. Along with the mushroom farm compost, other compost mixes come from Brooklyn Navy Yard tenants such as chocolate makers Mast. Brooklyn Grange does far more than grow food. It keeps bees at hives around the city, too. It serves an essential function by absorbing rainfall, relieving the burden on the city’s overtaxed stormwater management system. It educates schoolchildren from around the city about food and farming. It designs other landscapes. It hosts events ranging from dinner parties to weddings. And, most importantly, it has shown that you can make a business out of urban agriculture.
Placeholder Alt Text

New Jersey goes Brooklyn with new sustainable food hall

You can’t keep artisanal pickles, earthy micro-brews, and locally-sourced popsicle sticks in Brooklyn forever. At a certain point, these gluten-free, all-vegan treats are going to want to explore the world beyond Williamsburg. Like so many Brooklyn residents before them, they're headed for New Jersey

No, the Brooklyn Flea isn't relocating to the Garden State, but Inhabitat reported that a pre-World War I warehouse and adjacent lot in Long Branch is being transformed into a very Brooklyn-esque food hall and beer garden. According to the site, the 14,500-square-foot space has a rooftop garden and small batch brewery that will churn out "nano-brews." Aside from those tiny beers, the so-called Whitechapel Projects will also have community and arts spaces.

Fittingly, the project comes courtesy of some Brooklyn architects and designers including RAFT Landscape Architecture, Matt Burgermaster of Mabu Design, David Cunningham Architecture Planning, and Brooklyn Grange, which operates "the world's largest rooftop soil farms." The Asbury Park Press reported that bricks and timbers from the existing warehouse will be repurposed for the project and that an old elevator shaft will be preserved and topped with lights.

As Inhabitat explained, the multipurpose space could do more than dish up beers and artisanal snacks—it could have a significant economic impact for the Jersey Shore: "The Whitechapel Projects’ progressive-minded mission combined with a prime beachside location is expected to be immensely supportive to the local economy of Long Branch, New Jersey, a previously grief-stricken area post-Sandy." The project is expected to open next summer.  

Placeholder Alt Text

Growing Season in Full Swing at New York City's Largest Rooftop Farm

Urban rooftop farming is on the up-and-up in New York City and across the country. Putting his official stamp of approval on the movement, New York Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the city's largest rooftop farm, the 43,000-square-foot Brooklyn Grange atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With the growing season in full swing, the plants were towering nearly as high as the Manhattan skyline in the distance. The new facility is the second site for Brooklyn Grange, a commercial farming operation that also operates a rooftop in Long Island City, Queens. The new farm was awarded nearly $600,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection's Green Infrastructure Grant Program, the largest project in the program to date, as it's expected to help defer stormwater runoff and improve water quality. In fact, it's expected that the farm will store more than one million gallons of rainwater every year. That will help keep the city's sewer system from being overwhelmed during storms, which causes combined sewer overflow (CSO) sending sewage directly into New York Harbor. “It’s no news that a tree grows in Brooklyn, and now we’re ready to harvest cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce and kale,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement. “Along fresh produce and new jobs, the city’s largest rooftop garden will absorb more than a million gallons of storm water and help keep our harbors and streams clean. This is one of the biggest projects we’ve funded as part of our Green Infrastructure program and will help us meet our PlaNYC goals for a greener, greater New York.” The farm will grow salad greens, chard, kale, basil, eggplant, cucumbers, and ground cherries, and Brooklyn Grange hopes to harvest around 20,000 pounds of produce a year.
Placeholder Alt Text

City Wants Massive Rooftop Farm to Top Bronx Distribution Center

The New York City Economic Development Corporation sent out an RFP for a forward thinking urban farmer to run a 200,000 square foot rooftop farm atop one of the city's major food distribution centers at 600 Food Center Drive in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. Talk about cutting out the middleman. Once harvested the veggies merely have to make the trip downstairs and down the street for distribution at the City's 329-acre Food Distribution Center. The Bronx would be joining the ranks of Bright Farms with its plans for 100,000 square feet in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange is planning 45,000 square feet in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Gotham Greens has plans for expansion. With the newly passed Zone Green allowing for rooftop greenhouses for food production, the venture will no longer will need to clear arduous zoning hurdles should they choose to grow year round. The zoning also requires that the greenhouses capture rainwater, lightening the load on overtaxed sewers. The locale at the distribution point will also cut down on idle truck traffic and shipping costs. "With the potential construction of a new rooftop farm, the Hunts Point industrial area will be able to better provide greater quantities of produce to consumers while generating new employment opportunities for New Yorkers," Council Speaker and likely mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said in a statement. If NYCEDC finds a taker, the Bronx could become home to one of the largest rooftop farms on the planet.