Developers of affordable housing across New York City are leading the pack when it comes to installing urban gardens on rooftops, according to an article in this week’s New York Times Real Estate section. The article mentioned three properties around town with burgeoning rooftop gardens that provide not only greenery but edible rewards such as herbs and vegetables.
In the article, Abby Jo Sigal of Enterprise Community Partners points out that green roofs make sense in low-income neighborhoods, where open space is often at a premium if it exists at all. Developers maximize on space while creating a positive and productive community asset.
The article also brought up the fact that many kids growing up in low-income areas of New York may not understand the notion of farming because they’ve never experienced that environment. The rooftop gardens show them what it’s like to grow the foods they see in the grocery stores, and give them the opportunity to participate in the activity first hand.
Three subsidized housing properties in particular are highlighted in the article: Liberty Apartments at 119 Fountain Avenue in East New York was developed by the Dunn Development Corporation of Brooklyn; Via Verde in the South Bronx was developed in part by Jonathan Rose Companies; and Serviam Gardens at 323 East 198th Street in the Bronx was developed in part by Enterprise Community Partners and provides designated senior housing. Other partnerships mentioned included East New York Farms and GrowNYC, both of which offered assistance in establishing these rooftop gardens.
It’s heartening to know that residents of New York who historically have had the least access to healthy food and agricultural involvement are taking advantage of these rooftop gardens with zeal and commitment. How wonderfully ironic, then, that they are turning out to be the leaders in the city’s urban agriculture movement. Together with these commendable developers as partners, they are setting a marvelous example of successful urban farming.