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New York City Rooftop Farm

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Uploaded on Jul 31, 2009

It's got a view to die for. Rooftop Farms atop a warehouse in Brooklyn grow more than 30 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, aubergines and green onions.

While green roofs are nothing new, the sheer scale of the farm in the heart of one of the world's most congested cities is impressive.

Lisa Goode is the owner of Rooftop Farms.

[Lisa Goode, Owner, Rooftop Farms]:
"There's layers of drainage mat and separation fabric & mdash; it's all very technical stuff that the dirt actually just goes right on top of. And then you grow stuff in the dirt. But most importantly, a green roof has great environmental benefits such as storm-water reduction, which is a huge problem in New York City.

There's cooling for the building and if we can amass enough green roofs, hopefully it will help the heat island issue in New York City too."

The biggest problem with designing green roofs, Goode says, is convincing developers they are a good idea. She says there is a misguided perception that they can damage a building's roof. The reverse is true, she says. Greenery can protect a roof membrane from the damaging effects of the sun and cold weather.

Andy Darrell, Regional Manager of the Environmental Defense Fund, says another benefit of Rooftop Farms is that it lowers the carbon footprint caused by trucks used to transport food into the city.

[Andy Darrell, Regional Manager, Environmental Defense Fund]:
"About 70 percent of the air cancer risk in the air that we breathe comes from cars and trucks on our streets. So anything we can do to get trucks out of our communities and off of our crowded streets is a good thing."

Rooftop Farms is managed by a team of experienced farmers and volunteers. Neighbors often stop by and local restaurants get daily deliveries of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Ben Flanner, one of the farmers, is the delivery man.

Marlow and Sons, a neighborhood eatery, particularly likes the farm's heirloom tomatoes and mesclun greens. Sean Rembold is its Executive Chef.

[Sean Rembold, Executive Chef]:
"It is pretty amazing, when even though we can't get the volume maybe from the rooftop farm, to know that we can get fresh excellent vegetables… I could call right now — call Ben & mdash; and he would bicycle over something within the hour. So it's pretty amazing."

Rooftop Farms is a pilot project. It cost $60,000 to design and build. The project's goal is to bring down costs and to build more farms like it across New York City.

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