The Roof of your Mouth

Right before the McGuinness Blvd exit off the BQE, there is a sign that says “Eat Real Food.” This sign belongs to the The Brooklyn Kitchen and The Meat Hook, purveyors of quality, local, sustainable food. The Brooklyn Kitchen carries produce from nearby hydroponic rooftop farm, Gotham Greens. Using state of the art technology to harness solar energy and recycled rain water, Gotham Greens creates produce that is now supplied to Whole Foods, Fresh Direct, as well as chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern.

Local food is good for business. Since 2009, rooftop farms have been popping up all over NYC and internationally with support from both local communities and government, which is evident by how these projects are funded.

Under the FAQ section of the Brooklyn Grange, one of the questions is, “How is the farm financed?”

The farm is financed through a combination of private equity, loans, grassroots fundraising events and crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter.com and ioby.com.

The Brooklyn Grange has been able to raise over $45,000 with two successful Kickstarter campaigns. The first campaign raised $23,226 for the construction of a 1 acre farm that is now flourishing in Long Island City. The second campaign was for the Brooklyn Grange Apiary and succeeded in raising $22,308.

IOBY (In Our Backyard) is an environmental non-profit that has “a mission to deepen civic  engagement in cities by connecting individuals directly to community-led, neighbor-funded environmental projects in their neighborhoods” through a crowd-resourcing platform. 

Crowd-resourcing is a made-up word combining the concepts of crowd-funding (the ability to pool small donations made online to a specific cause or project) and resource organizing (a core tenet of community organizing that considers activists and advocates the best supporters to ensure financial sustainability of a cause or project).

Kickstarter and Ioby have played an instrumental role in the development of Brooklyn Grange. The participatory nature of social media builds a community of supporters with a click of the mouse.

Funding for Brooklyn Grange’s second, 65,000 sq ft farm in the Brooklyn Navy Yard was financed in part by “a Green Infrastructure Grant to help manage stormwater runoff and improve water quality – part ofPlaNYC’s goals for cleaner waterways”.

Read this press release from the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Here are highlights from key speakers:

Working with the Administration, we passed Local Law 5 in 2008 that established a sustainable storm water management plan, which led to the Department of Environmental Protection launching the successful Green Infrastructure Grant program. And four years later, here we are embracing innovative storm water management techniques and the creativity of the city’s urban agriculture movement. ~ Speaker Quinn

Things are really ‘looking up’ in Brooklyn, with the opening of the largest rooftop farm in New York City by Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard — producing locally grown food that is tastier and fresher than food trucked in from hundreds of miles away and helping the environment by diverting hundreds of thousands of gallons of storm water from ending up in our waterways. ~ Brooklyn Brorough President Marty Markowitz.

The goal is simple: Eat Real Food. From the far corners of the Internet to local government, the future of NYC’s rooftops is dependent on a community of supporters.

1 Comment

  • Not only does agriculture itself constitute an infrastructure — but it also serves as a testing ground for more sustainable practices in other infrastructural systems.