You’re in for a thrill. A low rise building in a dead end street in Greenpoint Brooklyn, a staircase, a rooftop … and here lies the whole of the Manhattan skyline in front of you.
The setting is as unexpected as spectacular. You won’t find the usual cocktail bar or Zen gardens on that rooftop though: welcome to Eagle Creek, a real farm with honeybees and chickens. Be prepared, organic food over there is both an art and a science.
Obviously it’s a fairly well engineered farm for it to grow food in the middle of one of the busiest urban city in the world, coping with a wide range of temperatures and adjusting to limited soil depth.
We hear Annie introducing the place to a captivated audience. Annie is a pioneer in Urban farming (which as the name suggests consists in growing food in cities to provide ‘local’ food for its inhabitants).
Annie is young, inspirational and pragmatic. She co-founded Eagle Street Rooftop Farms in 2009 as a small community supported agriculture program (CSA). CSA members are effectively shareholders of the venture: they pay the farmer upfront for the season’s produce. In return they obtain a set share of the fresh products once harvested.
Annie and her team respond to a growing demand not only from organic conscious consumers but also from her (far reaching) local community. What is the point of those small food productions when all fresh products are readily available in any supermarket? The answer is simple: the connection between people and their food. What you find at the farm are products that have been handled by people you know and whom you trust (no risk of food factory processed hazards). It also means that you support the living of people in your community rather than intermediaries.
And if you want to check it by yourself, you can get involved in the production: in partnership with Growing Chefs (ww.GrowingChefs.org) the rooftop farm hosts a range of educational and volunteer programs. With Annie and her team you will learn what to plant in the extreme conditions of urban environment, what are the properties of seasonal and local food …and obviously how to grow cucumbers, hot peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, spinach, radishes, kale, etc. Now if you’re unsure about having a ‘green hand’, you can purchase the local production in the site-based Sunday farm market. Or even test it in local restaurants, including Williamsburg’s Marlow & Sons and Greenpoint’s Paulie Gee’s.
Beyond its food, the place provides useful ecological services: a green roof retains water and allows air circulation, therefore reducing storm water runoff and improving building insulation.
Rooftop farms seem to make a lot of (common) sense. Want to bet that New York City is going to look greener from above in the coming few years?!
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