New York City will soon be home to the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world.
City officials announced earlier this month that a greenhouse will be constructed on top of Liberty View Industrial Plaza, an eight-story warehouse building in Sunset Park that towers above the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
BrightFarms, the Manhattan-based company that is building the greenhouse, hopes their garden will cultivate more than just fresh veggies: They want to build a new national model for growing local produce around the nation.
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The multi-acre farm will be constructed on 100,000 square feet of rooftop space and will grow up to 1 million pounds of local produce each year, according to the company, including tomatoes, lettuces and herbs.
The farm is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2013, a BrightFarms spokesperson said, and the company is working to identify a supermarket to purchase the produce.
Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, said he thinks the BrightFarms project could help New York lead the world when it comes to reusing things and spaces, like buildings rooftops.
"That's been one of the great strengths over the last few years, managing to take existing buildings and turn them into something else," he said. "Here we have a great example of taking a rooftop and harnessing it for the environment."
He added, "It's just been impressive how much we've seen New York reuse existing spaces for growth ... I think it's going to really help get the domino effect going."
BrightFarms has built another rooftop greenhouse out on Long Island, in Huntington, N.Y. There, they have partnered with a local supermarket that has agreed to purchase their produce.
The project is one part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's larger vision for a revitalized Brooklyn waterfront.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz praised the rooftop greenhouse, saying that it sets "an example for the nation on how to embrace rooftop urban agriculture."
Other green ventures
Earth Day New York has partnered with inner-city schools to help students grow their own gardens inside their classrooms. Through the Earth Day Organic Indoor Learning Program, a pilot program that has so far reached more than 100 schools in New York City, children learn to garden through containers provided to classrooms. The containers are equipped with potting soil and seed starter trays. They cost about $320 and can be donated by an individual contributing the cash, or by schools raising funds.
A greenhouse located on the rooftop of a Greenpoint building, Gotham Greens began harvesting in June of 2011. The greenhouse is fully enclosed to protect the crops, which include produce like lettuce and basil.
The Grange is an organic farm located on city rooftops that grows vegetables to sell both to local New Yorkers and businesses. Their first farm is in Long Island City, and they're hoping to add others to more rooftops.