New York City has been home to rooftop and urban gardens for a long time; and now BrightFarms has ambitious plans to build the world’s largest rooftop garden above a warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The garden will be a 100,000-swuare-foot hydroponinc (sans soil) garden.
Monica Willis is a contributing senior editor at Country Living. “Any random empty space in New York City, somebody’s trying to figure out how to grow something on it,” she says. And it’s true: the city’s bursting with a growing number of green spaces as New Yorkers figure out how to live more sustainably.
Willis is a member of the Lotus Garden in the Upper West Side. For the past 17 years, she’s been gardening from the top of a parking garage 20 feet above street-level. The garden is a dense forest of plants, trees, vines, and trellises open to members everyday and the public on Sundays.
In partnership with A&P, BrightFarms’ new rooftop garden will supply around one million pounds of local produce each year for customers of A&P, The Food Emporium, Pathmark, or Waldbaum’s in the NYC area. The garden will produce lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs. The groundbreaking ceremonies for the garden were in Septermber 2012, and the opening is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013.
BrightFarms’ aim is to grow local produce across the entire nation “by financing, building, and operating greenhouse farms at or near grocery retailers.” By doing so, they hope to provide fresher and better produce to customers in a way that is sustainable and good for the planet and economy.
BrightFarms is essentially a massive-scale imitation of gardens like the Brooklyn Farm, run by Emily Wood and Jeff Lai out of their backyard. The two have been gardening since 2006, their space slowly transforming from a sandbox to a lush collection of edible crops like tomatoes, garlic, blackberries, green beans, and tomatillos.