Sourced from Untapped Cities
There’s a secret garden on a roof of the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Chelsea, a farm run by volunteers who are all employees of the many companies in the building. Last week, an enticing message started showing in the building’s elevators announcing that the rooftop garden was open for volunteers. As members of the Centre for Social Innovation, a mission-driven co-working office and event space inside the building, the Untapped Cities team headed up to the 8th floor and followed friendly index card signs that said “Garden this way! up 2 flights.”
On a large roof terrace, with stunning views of the Hudson River and Hudson Yards, we were greeted by Denise Pizzini the founder of Farm at the Landing in Hudson, NY. She was previously involved with the Starrett-Lehigh Building through the Centre for Social Innovation when she worked for the now defunct Stewardship Farms. The farm provided a community shared agriculture (CSA) program for building employees. Denise tells us that the minute she saw the roof here, she had a vision to grow a garden.
She put in a proposal and the Starrett-Lehigh Building, known for its visionary social responsibility and environmental policies, approved the plan. (The Starrett-Lehigh, owned by RXR, is the first building to commit to New York City’s Zero Waste goals and is a member of the city’s Carbon Exchange challenge to reduce citywide emissions 80% by 2050. One of the large initiatives has been a 3-year, $23 million double window pane replacement to make the building more energy efficient, in one of the largest window replacements projects of its kind in the United States).
As Denise recounts, “I couldn’t have done this without the awesome vision of Mitchell Grant, the director of the building. He approached me and I saw the garden’s future unfold. It’s an exciting project to be a part of. The shed went from my drawing on a napkin to Mitchell asking the creative team of Ralph Lauren to make it a reality. Brooklyn Grange took it to the next level and helped with installing our green roof with the wild flower meadow.”