Monday, December 22, 2014

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Rooftop Farm Opens In Queens

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A ribbon-cutting ceremony today marked the opening of New York's biggest rooftop farm.

The farm is run by the commercial farming business Brooklyn Grange and is located atop a building on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.

"We lifted up the soil with a crane and we covered the entire roof with a green roof system," explained head farmer Ben Flanner. "And there is over a million pounds of soil that we can grow vegetables in."

"It's wild that about six weeks ago there was nothing up here, and now there is all this,” said farmer Rob Lateiner.

The group says the idea is to inspire New Yorkers to create their own rooftop gardens by informing them of all the perks.

"There's some energy savings to the building with a green roof," Flanner said. "We provide insulation and we're an extra barrier of plants and moisture and soil preventing the sun from just beating down on the surface of the roof that probably would hit like mid-150 degree temperatures, so there's reduced energy involved in cooling the building."

Local officials praised Brooklyn Grange’s initiative.

"We have to really commit to making urban farming part of our food system,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

"It makes sense on every level,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “It's locally produced, locally farmed, that will be sold locally."

Farmers cultivate a wide variety of vegetables ranging from salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, squash and kale.

The farm sells its produce to city restaurants, at two markets at the building on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and at Roberta's in Bushwick on Sunday afternoons. It also plans to sell at Vesta in Astoria on Saturdays.

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