Rooftop Farming Is More Than a Green Thumb’s Urban Fantasy

Sourced from the Daily Beast

In the heart of a city, traditional agriculture has some drawbacks.

Large farms can’t fit inside bustling metropolises, so produce has to sometimes travel great distances to get to your table. That means degrading the quality of produce and, even worse, releasing carbon into the atmosphere as trucks cart food to their final destination. But as “eat local” has become a mantra for creating a healthy planet, farmers have been trying to figure out how to bring their operations closer to the city.

With every single inch of land in increasingly crowded cities going for top dollar, creative farmers have started following the most common real-estate principle: build up. That means farms have started appearing on rooftops across the world. And they’re not just benefitting local waistlines with fresh produce, they’re also improving the health of city-dwellers by helping the environment.

Brooklyn Grange, for example, is the largest rooftop farming operation in New York City. They’ve been growing veggies on rooftops in the city since 2010. Ben Flanner, president and director of agriculture at the farm, says that any method of greening rooftops can help a city be more environmentally friendly. One way is with water recycling and flood mitigation. “There are overflows [in the city] whenever we get a substantial rainstorm because all of our impervious pavement and surfaces generally all flow into the same system where our toilets and sewage system goes. It massively increases the strain on our water treatment systems when we get heavy rainstorms. So basically making certain surfaces more like a sponge between green roofs—plus other ways to slow down or manage our storm water—is very valuable and reduces flooding and overflows in the sewage system.”

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