Urban Farming: Brooklyn Grange Documentary

The Brooklyn Grange, located in Queens, New York has long been known as the largest soil rooftop farm in the world. Serving as a CSA and providing produce to restaurants throughout the city, the farm is a roaring success after just two years. However back in May, the bustling urban farm continued its plans for expansion by signing a 20 year lease on a 65,000-square-foot rooftop at the once defunct Brooklyn Navy Yards. The space was barren. Although the team behind Brooklyn Grange was experienced in sustaining a productive urban farm, their new challenge was to grow their business as the growing season came upon them. At least, that’s the narrative arc of a documentary following the successes and learned-lessons of the five-member team of the Brooklyn Grange.

In Brooklyn Grange: A Portrait of Urban Farming, director Michael Tyburski and producers Ben Nabors and Burke Cherrie sought to document the creation and evolution of an urban farm changing the way a major city addresses food production and locality. As a business, Brooklyn Grange had to grow, but as an example in the urban farm conversation, it had to thrive. The film, which is currently in production and shooting for an end of year release, is gorgeously shot, and the available featurettes showcase not only the core team of Brooklyn Grange (including head farmer Ben Flanner) but also its corps of interns, volunteers and contributors who make up the brute workforce for the incredibly successful experiment. As production of the film continued, the Navy Yards farm was not only greenroofed and planted but it also acquired a chicken coop and an apiary, increasing Brooklyn Grange's production to much more than just rooftop vegetables.

If you're looking to be inspired by what human engineering can do to respond to growing demand for locally sourced food, look no further and be sure to check out the documentary when it launches later this year.

(via Cool Hunting)

Rooftop Urban Farm: Brooklyn Grange

By Arielle Hartman

High above the bustling streets of Western Queens, there is a one-acre urban farm, planting, growing and harvesting its way to a more sustainable lifestyle. Brooklyn Grange Farm, located in Long Island City, is part of a slew of urban farms rapidly taking over New York City's abandoned or unused lots, terraces and rooftops. At one-acre, in a city known for cramped spaces and crowded streets, Brooklyn Grange is a feat unto itself, turning the vacant office building roof they lease into a viable and successful urban farm - one of the biggest in New York City!

Launched in 2010, the brainchild of Ben Flanner, co-founder of Eagle Street Rooftop Farms in Brooklyn, Gwen Schantz, co-founder of the Bushwick Food Cooperative and CSA, Anastasia Plakias, New York City restaurant veteran-at-large, and Brandon Hoy and Chris Parachini, co-owners of Roberta's restaurant, Brooklyn Grange is a commercial farm that aims to make urban farming a feasible career opportunity as well as providing those farmers with a livable and dependable income.

Hoping to foster a closer relationship between producer and consumer, Brooklyn Grange has become somewhat of a community center, with farmers and volunteers always willing to give impromptu tours to visitors, providing a wealth of knowledge of the various produce they grow as well as new and interesting ways to cook them. The Grange even offers open volunteer days, Saturdays from 10am-4pm, to everyone from experienced gardeners to first time growers who relish the outdoors. Just show up, ready to feel the dirt between your fingers and they'll put you straight to work!

Through their sister company, City Growers, Brooklyn Grange offers educational tours and hands on activities for interested high schools and community groups, hoping to instill their passion for local and delicious food into this new, curious generation.

Additionally, Brooklyn Grange aims to combat the mechanization and wasted energy within the food industry by providing locally grown food to nearby restaurants and the eco-conscious community around them. Farm produce never usually travels beyond a five mile radius from the farm, cutting down fuel used for food transport, and Brooklyn Grange also collects and utilizes kitchen compost to provide essential nutrients for their soil, reducing the strain on the city's garbage disposal system.

The benefits of Brooklyn Grange do not just stop at the environmental; in fact, housing a rooftop farm is also very economically feasible for many buildings. The greenroof insulates the structure underneath, reducing heating and cooling bills. Additionally, the greenroof blocks dangerous UV rays, which are harmful to our health and harmful to the structure. These benefits can extend the building's functionality by up to 300%.

Furthermore, the farm collects almost 100% of the rainwater that falls for their plants, reducing their need for water while easing the stress on the city's already overworked storm systems. With these prominent cost-efficient and eco-friendly advantages, Brooklyn Grange hopes to be a beacon of successful urban farming for aspiring farmers and the buildings that house them in the future.

Rooftop farms, such as Brooklyn Grange, have the potential to drastically change our city for the better. Providing much-needed jobs, fresh produce and outdoor activities for our city's youth, Brooklyn Grange is a model for successful urban farming as well as living a sustainable and conscious life.

Visit Brooklyn Grange at 37-18 Northern Boulevard, at 38th Street, in Long Island City, Queens and get some of their delicious produce at their market on Wednesdays from 2pm-7pm or on Saturdays, at Brooklyn Flea's Smorgasburg!

Learn more about Brooklyn Grange here.