By Vanessa Richins
I once had a very detailed exchange on a forum about urban gardening in New York.
I had been promoting the idea of people growing their own food as one angle to help curb obesity, and explained that I felt that most people could at least participate in some form of urban gardening, whether it was one small pot on a windowsill, joining a community garden, or turning your balcony into a small garden.
She insisted that it couldn’t be done in New York, that there were too many problems.
I tried showing her blogs about people successfully growing produce on rooftops right there in New York City. She worried about the effects of pollution, describing a deformed tomato as evidence (For the record, I found similar photo evidence of a “deformed” tomato with an “appendage” in Emmett, Idaho, which must be out in the middle of nowhere, at least compared to a metropolis like NYC. It just happens sometimes). It’s hard to know the potential effects of pollution and just how possible New York City gardening really is.
I remembered that discussion when I came across a story describing Rooftop Farms, a 6000 sq foot rooftop farm that produces organic vegetables. It’s nestled on top of a Greenpoint warehouse.
Work on the garden began in December 2008. It wasn’t easy – Chris and Lisa Goode, the creators of the farm, hauled up 100 tons of soil onto the roof. It was a variety that is specially crafted to do well in rooftop gardens, since the compost is included. They also produce more compost with local restaurant scraps. 1000 earthworms were recently introduced into the mix to help keep the soil healthy.
So far it sounds like a smashing success. As New York magazine mentions, “The Brooklyn restaurants Marlow & Sons and Anella are already buying the produce; Joseph Leonard and Applewood are interested.” I wish them well and am excited to see this project.
Have you ever kept a rooftop garden?