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Veggies from on High
Brooklyn Grange (Photo: Courtesy of Brooklyn Grange)

6 Pioneering Rooftop Gardens in NYC — and Where to Eat Their Produce

Farms, within city limits? It might not sound possible, but ingenious New Yorkers have found a way to harness the city's least-utilized open spaces -- namely, its rooftops -- as productive, living farms

Over the last few years, more than a few rooftop farms have sprouted up across New York City. Mostly they’re atop warehouses, which offer the square footage needed for large-scale farming, but you can also find them crowning restaurants (you can’t get more locally sourced than that) and hotels, and even a production company masquerading as a hotel has gotten into the act. With ample irrigation, effort and know-how, just about any sky-high space can be turned into a farm as verdant as anything two hours’ drive from the city. What’s more, the elevation of rooftop farms means that they tend to get direct sunlight, a key concern in growing produce. To hop on the bandwagon, check out these six pioneering rooftop farms in NYC, along with what they grow and the best places to buy their produce.

 

Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard

Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard (Photo: Courtesy of Brooklyn Grange)

Brooklyn Grange
Perhaps the best-known rooftop farm business in the city, Brooklyn Grange operates the two biggest rooftop soil farms in the world — yielding more than 50,000 pounds of organic produce per year. The company got its start in 2010, with its flagship farm on Northern Boulevard in Queens; the massive, 43,000-square-foot building has a concrete slab roof, making it more than able to support the thousands of pounds of soil and plants. While Brooklyn Grange started off as a grassroots, friends-and-family effort, it’s now a thriving enterprise with two acres in Brooklyn and Queens, a CSA direct to customers, and constant on-site activity, from farm tours to events to corporate retreats. Its current farms grow tomatoes, greens, herbs, peppers, beans and carrots, and they support egg-laying chickens. Buy produce seasonally at the flagship in Long Island City or at Down to Earth Markets in Greenpoint. Multiple locations, more info at brooklyngrangefarm.com

 

Gotham Greens Greenpoint

Gotham Greens Greenpoint (Photo: Courtesy of Gotham Greens)

Gotham Greens
Brooklyn-based Gotham Greens has a clear specialty: raising lettuces and other greens in its rooftop greenhouses. Its flagship, erected in Greenpoint in 2010, is the first commercial-scale rooftop greenhouse in the states; its second greenhouse sits atop the Whole Foods building in Gowanus, and its third is in the works in Jamaica, Queens. Gotham produces a number of lettuces, from butterhead to red oak-leaf; other greens like arugula, kale, and bok choy; and tomatoes in a variety of colors. Find them sold all over the city — in specialty stores such as Brooklyn Fare, through farm-direct grocery delivery such as Good Eggs, and at larger enterprises the likes of Whole Foods, D’Agostino’s and Fresh Direct. Sold at multiple locations, more info at gothamgreens.com

 

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm (Photo: Courtesy of Eagle Street)

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm
This 6,000-square-foot garden, owned by production studio Broadway Stages, is located in Greenpoint atop a warehouse roof three stories high (with a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline). During the growing season, the farm hosts a weekly farmers market, delivers its fruits, herbs and vegetables to city restaurants, and hosts weekly Sunday open houses when the public can visit the farm. In the warmer months, you’ll find its produce on the menu at Marlow and Daughters, Paulie Gee’s, Eastern District, and more. rooftopfarms.org

 

Rosemary's

Rosemary’s (Photo: Courtesy of Rosemary’s)

Rosemary’s
This stunner of a West Village restaurant opened in the summer of 2012 to wide acclaim, a status achieved, in part, thanks to the impressive rooftop garden. “During the peak times,” chef Wade Moises says, “we will be serving salads featuring rooftop greens, edible flowers and radishes.” Herbs from the garden are used throughout the menu, including basil, mint, lovage, lemon balm, oregano, borage and parsley. This year, the staff is refitting the garden with multiple tons of organic composted topsoil; already, hops are starting to grow, “hopefully enough to brew a few small batches of beer,” says the chef. The Insalata special — with its grilled zucchini and yellow squash, roasted cherry tomatoes and pea shoots with a tomato garlic vinaigrette — is a great way to get a taste of the garden. 18 Greenwich Ave., 212-647-1818, rosemarysnyc.com

 

Gallow Green at The McKittrick Hotel

Gallow Green at The McKittrick Hotel (Photo: Courtesy of The McKittrick Hotel)

Gallow Green and The Heath
This ornately decorated rooftop bar on the top of McKittrick Hotel, which houses the performance of Sleep No More, is crafting a rooftop farm. Its summer-long production of fruits, herbs and vegetables (strawberries, lettuces, summer squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes) be used at on-site restaurant The Heath; what’s more, fruits, herbs and edible flowers will find their way into Gallow Green’s seasonal cocktails. 542 W. 27th St., 212-564-1662, mckittrickhotel.com

 

Waldorf Astoria's Edible Rooftop Garden

Waldorf Astoria’s Edible Rooftop Garden (Photo: Courtesy of The New York Horticultural Society)

Waldorf Astoria
Few buildings have higher, more impressive rooftops than New York’s grand Midtown hotels — which makes them enticing spots for rooftop gardens. Built with help from the New York Horticultural Society and led by David Garcelon, the hotel’s director of culinary, the 20th-floor garden sports nine raised planting beds, a number of potted plants, fruit trees, herbs and even beehives. In fact, more than 360,000 European honeybees now live atop the Waldorf Astoria (nice digs, if you can get ‘em), supervised by Andrew Cote, head of the New York Beekeepers Association. Their honey is used across the property, whether in a honey-poppyseed vinaigrette on a salad, in the Wax Poetic cocktail with lemon and bison grass vodka, or in the Milk and Haute Honey nail treatment at Guerlain Spa. 301 Park Ave., 212-355-3000, waldorfastoria3.hilton.com

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