Up on the roof with Ben Flanner in New York
Creating Urban Agriculture, One Roof At A Time
By Damiano Beltrami
Traditionally, farmers take it easy in the winter. But urban farmer Ben Flanner has never been so busy. He is trying to get more New York rooftops ready to grow new shingles of Sun Gold tomatoes, salad greens, and carrots before the next season begins.
“We want to see a lot more roofs across the city covered with farms and growing healthy vegetables,” said Flanner, head farmer at Brooklyn Grange, New York’s biggest rooftop farm located (despite its name) in Long Island City, Queens.
Started last May, in its first season the 40,000 square-foot organic rooftop farm covered with 1.2 million pounds of soil provided New Yorkers with 15,000 pounds of fresh produce that was traditionally shipped into the city from far away, creating pollution and waste.
Almost a year into the project, Flanner has now learned some lessons which he willingly shares.