Rooftop Gardens in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

It sounds like directions to your next mafia hit:  Walk to the most northern edge of Brooklyn, down a side street ’til you get to the river, then into the warehouse on the left.  You’ll find what you’re looking for at the top of the stairs.

The good news is what you’re looking for is a 6,000 square foot edible garden known as Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Founded by Ben Flanner, Annie Novak, and Lisa and Chris Goode of Goode Green, the farm is having a triumphant inaugural season.  They have gotten press coverage from many major outlets — including the BBC News.  Every week some 100+ people come to the Farm to tour it, work it, and buy its produce.

One element of the draw is the juxtaposition of a green field against the stunning Manhattan skyline.  The other magnetic force is the people.  Ben and Annie greet everyone like family.  They also have a reservoir of kindness and patience for novices who are eager to get their hands dirty.

As Nicholas D. Kristoff recently wrote in his New York Times Op-Ed piece (8/23/09), “…I think I figured out the central problem with modern industrial agriculture.  It’s not just that it produces unhealthy food, mishandles waste and overuses antibiotics in ways that harm us all.  More fundamentally, it has no soul.”

Rooftop Farms provides green space, local food, and a big heart antidote to the process.  I was happy to get a few thoughts from Annie about it:

Why do you think Rooftop Farms is so popular now?

Greenpoint is community-oriented and it’s been a great year for local food.  Our number 1 goal is that our food speaks for itself.  We’re not selling you anything other than a tomato.  We’re not selling the packaging or the claim that it fights heart disease.  Just the tomato.

Why do you think the Farm important?

Greenpoint has terrible soil on the ground level.  We’re offering people a green space.  It’s an oasis for people – and flora and fauna, too.  And pollinating insects.  We want to put the jungle back into the concrete jungle.  (Laughs.)

What are your plans for expansion?

We hope to be a model for green roofs, local food, and learning about plants.  I think the Farm proves we have endless possibility.  We want people to do this everywhere.  Come, learn about what we’re doing, and take it back home.

To learn more and sign up to volunteer at the most beautiful farm around, go to www.rooftopfarms.org.

Take the Stairs to the Farm

Take the Stairs to the Farm

Annie Novak Instructs Farmhands (A.K.A. Volunteers)

Annie Novak Instructs Farmhands (A.K.A. Volunteers)

In the Dirt

In the Dirt

Field Backdrop: Williamburg Bridge

Field Backdrop: Williamburg Bridge

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