The Sky’s The Limit: Urban Farmers Take to the Roof

The NY Botanical Gardens will be holding two educational programs on container gardening next month.

A few months back we wrote about Whole Foods’ large-scale urban farm, and it seems as though since then the trend in urban farming has continued to flourish. Roof farms are something that many an urbanite with a green thumb can benefit from, and if executed properly, medium to large rooftop farms can offer an array of perks to the entire community.

According to Eliza Barclay of National Public Radio, “From vacant lots to vertical “pinkhouses,” urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food…While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That’s why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.” In New York City, big names like Gotham Green, Whole Foods, and Brooklyn Grange are taking full advantage of rooftop real estate to cultivate urban farms.

NYC gardeners are taking to the rooftops. Image: GlenwoodNYC

NYC gardeners are taking to the rooftops.
Image: GlenwoodNYC

Brooklyn Grange is “the leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business in the US,” according to their description. This company operates the world’s largest rooftop soil farms; the two farms based atop New York City rooftops grow over 40,000 pounds of organically cultivated produce every year. Brooklyn Grange grows and distributes fresh veggies and herbs to local businesses, and always keeps their community service philosophy in mind.

Equally impressive is “Uncommon Ground” in Chicago, the largest soil-based rooftop farm in the Midwest, taking up an astounding 20,000 square feet. This is Chicago’s first major rooftop farm, and its goal is to grow 12,000 pounds of food annually to feed the people of McCormick Place, which it rests upon. The benefits and possibilities of rooftop farming are truly limitless.

In addition to these large-scale urban farming operations, container and micro-gardens also yield wonderful produce if you have roof access or a sunlit balcony at your apartment. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, a well-tended micro-garden of 11 square feet can produce as much as 200 tomatoes a year, 36 heads of lettuce every 60 days, 10 cabbages every 90 days, and 100 onions every 120 days. With the right amount of dedication and a DIY-attitude, your micro-garden could be quite successful.

What do you think about these trends in urban farming?


About Alex Holt

I am a local artist from Brooklyn, NY. I love art, design, books, photography, gardening and blogging.
This entry was posted in Community Gardens, Gardening news, Public Places, Rooftop Gardens, Urban Farming and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Sky’s The Limit: Urban Farmers Take to the Roof

  1. Robbie says:

    I have a flat roof…someday I hope to explore that since I do believe it is a great place to grow food!

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