New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Millions in seed funds have New Yorkers going back to the soil.

Ben Flanner and Anastasia Cole Plakias of Brooklyn Grange work the soil at their rooftop farm in the Navy Yard. Photo by Buck Ennis.

Gotham farmers sprout cash crops

By Adrianne Pasquarelli
Crain’s New York Business
July 28, 2013
(Must read. Mike)


When Whole Foods debuts its long-awaited Brooklyn location in the Gowanus neighborhood this year, it will boast another first—a commercial-scale rooftop farm. The 20,000-square-foot greenhouse facility, operated by local grower Gotham Greens, will produce the Butterhead lettuce, tomatoes and herbs that consumers will find downstairs in the vegetable aisle.

“Our climate-controlled greenhouse can grow 365 days of the year,” said Gotham Greens Chief Executive Viraj Puri, noting that the produce from the company’s existing Greenpoint, Brooklyn, facility sells at more than 30 local establishments—most of them supermarkets. “We can do the volume and consistency and reliability that big chains require.”

Gotham Greens partners (from left) Eric Haley, Viraj Puri and Jenn Nelkin sell basil at more than 30 establishments, most of them supermarkets. Photo by Buck Ennis.

In a mere few years, urban agriculture has moved beyond its offbeat roots into a viable business model, attractive to grocers from Whole Foods to A&P. Early city-farming pioneers such as Gotham Greens, which began three years ago, and Brooklyn Grange Farm, another three-year-old venture, are busy expanding their chard and spinach operations by the acre, while the city is reviewing proposals for a farm at Hunts Point in the Bronx.

Read the complete article here.