Up on the Roof

April 11th, 2012 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Up on the Roof

Here’s a little bit of trivia for you – the popular song by the Drifters, “Up on the Roof”(recorded in 1962) was actually written by singer songwriter Carole King. So why am I reading about this on a blog that discusses organic foods and the environment, you might ask? Well, it’s all about rooftops. Yep, more and more we’re beginning to see urban farming as the hot new agricultural trend, which really makes good sense in urban areas, where more available space can actually be found on rooftops than on the ground. The latest project is coming out of Brooklyn, NY which will soon be home to the world’s largest rooftop farm.

Bright Farms, a company that builds greenhouses, has announced they will build a multi-acre farm on 100,000 square feet of rooftop space in Sunset Park.

Construction will begin later this year and the farm is scheduled to open in 2013, when the company predicts it will begin to produce over one million pounds of vegetables a year, including tomatoes, lettuces and herbs.

All of the produce will be grown hydroponically, meaning no soil will be used as mineral nutrients are absorbed directly from the water in which the plants are grown.

The massive greenhouse will be atop Federal Building #2, renamed Liberty View Industrial Plaza– an 8-story 1.1 million-square-foot former Navy warehouse that the city’s Economic Development Corporation acquired last year,

“Here in New York, we don’t have acres and acres of unused land to grow fresh food,” Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said in a statement, according to The New York Times, “but Brooklyn’s got plenty of industrial buildings with unused roofs that are perfect for urban farming.”

The greenhouse is an extension of an urban farming movement that’s gained in popularity over the last several years, namely in Brooklyn, where there are 224 community gardens, compared to just 150 in Manhattan. And this spring, Brooklyn Grange is set to open a 45,000-square-foot commercial rooftop farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“Brooklyn was an agricultural powerhouse in the 19th century, and it has now become a local food scene second to none,” said Paul Lightfoot, the chief executive of Bright Farms, according to The Times. “We’re bringing a business model where food is grown and sold right in the community.”

Lightfoot also said that Bright Farms is in talks with local supermarkets that could potentially commit to buying the produce.

“The USDA tells us that for every $1 million of local foods sold, 13 jobs are supported, so we’re hoping to take jobs that have gone to other parts of the country or to the world and bring them back to Brooklyn,” Lightfoot said. “We want to promote the Brooklyn economy by bringing better produce to New Yorkers.”

Who knew that Carol King and the Drifters were such a voice for the future . . .