Brooklyn Grange, Queens, NY
Green roof size: 40,000 square feet
Award recipient: Brooklyn Grange (owner and manager)

Project Team
Architect: Bromley Caldari
CFO: Bushwick Food Cooperative
Soil and Media Supplier: Rooflite

Brooklyn Grange is a 40,000-square-foot commercial farm located on the rooftop of a six-story building in the dense urban environment of Queens, N.Y. The project integrates traditional intensive green roof design with organic agriculture and permaculture principles to create a commercially viable urban farm. In 2010, its first abbreviated growing season, the farm raised 13,000 lbs. of produce. In its second season of full production, the farm is producing dozens of varieties of vegetables and herbs, and is selling the output to local restaurants and direct to the public through farmers markets and community supported agriculture shares. This local distribution lowers fossil fuel consumption by transportation. The farm participates in community outreach programs by providing tours and volunteer opportunities to local residents, schools, community groups, and other community members who otherwise would not have an opportunity to experience an organic farm.

The green roof is designed to use minimal resources and employs a 6-inch to 18-inch media depth depending on the location, using organic soil media by Rooflite mixed with compost. Food scraps, fallen leaves, wood shavings, and other biodegradables are collected from the local community for Brooklyn Grange’s compost program, thereby reducing the amount of inputs needed to maintain the growing medium. As well, the green roof system holds up to 1 in. of water in reserve, reducing the burden on New York City's stormwater management system and allowing for less-frequent crop irrigation. The farm covers all the available space on the roof to maximize growing area and stormwater management capacity. 

The farm has entered into uncharted territory in the urban agriculture movement by achieving a scale never-before seen in an urban rooftop farm application. This hybrid green roof-farming project has generated global interest and has proven the feasibility of commercial rooftop farming in urban environments. And, the roof continues to grow. A chicken coop was recently installed for a small flock of Rhode Island red hens, and four beehives were also added. 

Steven W. Peck is the founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the non-profit industry association with a mission to develop the green roof and wall industry across North America. For more information visit greenroofs.org. Readers are invited to join GRFHC at CitiesAlive to meet the award winners and learn more about these outstanding green roof and wall projects: citiesalive.org.