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Stories From Main Street: Rooftop Farming In Long Island City

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) - Brooklyn Grange is a 40,000 square foot rooftop farm in Long Island City, where they grow things like the white icicle radish.

WCBS 880's Sean Adams In Queens


Ben Flanner put his degree in industrial engineering to use when he devised a way to farm six stories up.

"The whole space is covered with the green roof system and soil, and we have a couple of walkways, and, other than that, it's pretty much vegetables growing all across the whole roof," he said.

There's a cornucopia up there on the roof.

"Swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, eggplants, onions, lots of different types of herbs, lots of kale. We also have chickens and bees," Flanner told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.

They grow thousands of pounds of vegetables every year.

Stories from Main Street
Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

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Honey, eggs, and produce are sold at farmers markets and to local restaurants.

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Now you might be wondering how the roof takes all of that weight.

The soil is made from porous stone.

"We weigh about 25 percent lighter than topsoil. So, it's the lightweight stones blended in with this significant amount of compost," he said.

They don't use pesticides and he says that discussions with professors have allayed any concern about pollution.

LINK: Brooklyn Grange

Brooklyn Grange is a commercial farm, but the rooftop also serves as a classroom and a communal gathering spot for city dwellers who dream of green pastures.

"Particularly kids that we're focusing towards that don't have a lot of opportunity to pull a carrot out of the ground," said Flanner. "Kids groups come up here and they have a great time and they learn a lot and I think it's important for understanding cooking principles, nutrition principles, where your food comes from."

Flanner says Brooklyn Grange is thriving and they hope to expand to other rooftops. They are located at 37-18 Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

What other rooftop farms have you heard about? Please share them in the comments section below!

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