The Freshest Food is from Above: New York’s Rooftop Gardens

Kara Schlotthauer

Agriculture reaches further than just in the acres of open farmland in the Midwest; it’s also suspended above pedestrians’ heads in the middle of NYC. Gardens are taking over the roofs of New York’s buildings, silencing the excuse that wide open spaces are necessary to produce quality, fresh vegetables and herbs. These rooftop gardens find their places atop apartment buildings and restaurants, while New Yorkers also use plots of ground-level land where possible to establish urban farms. Urbanites have taken their nutrition into their own hands to get only the best ingredients to support a healthy lifestyle, ranging from a few contained plants to bulging green expanses.

Even city lawmakers are on board with more green spaces. A bill is currently in the works that would promote the importance of urban farming and community gardens, protecting them and adding bright spots of growth to vacant lots around the area.

Many small community gardens and farms are spread throughout the city’s neighborhoods, located largely on publicly-owned land or operated by nonprofit organizations to make the food accessible to community members.

A few of the largest gardens crowning New York’s rooftops, though, are listed below.

Riverpark Farm at Alexandria Center

Instagram: @riverparknyc

Instagram: @riverparknyc

A year-long paused construction site caught the attention of Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Gramercy Tavern alum Sisha Ortuzar as the perfect site to grow the freshest ingredients for their restaurant. Planted in milk crates, the portable garden relocated to the plaza’s north side when construction restarted, not giving up on the quality of the dishes served with the 100 types of fresh vegetables.

Bell Book & Candle

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Using a vertical garden system, Bell Book & Candle is a host for a lush rooftop garden, placing the highest value on locally and organically grown produce. The menu selections heavily rely on the available ingredients acquired from the garden and cycles through the year’s seasons, bringing guaranteed savory flavors to every dish prepared.

Brooklyn Grange

Instagram: @brooklyngrange

Instagram: @brooklyngrange

Despite the location its name suggests, this rooftop garden is based out of Long Island City. Claiming five and a half acres of rooftop space across Brooklyn and Queens, Brooklyn Grange operates the largest rooftop soil farms in the world. Since 2010, it’s passion is to grow and source food to local communities in the eco-friendliest way. Modern urban agriculture takes its cues from Brooklyn Grange, and the 80,000 lbs. of produce isn’t all that it offers. The rooftop gardens double as event venues for yoga classes, weddings and dinner parties.

 If you don’t want to walk down the street for a ripe tomato or a sprig of parsley, you could create your own garden with a bit of a green thumb. While personal rooftop gardens require a considerable amount of care, time and money, many New Yorkers are accepting the challenge to get the best ingredients for their meals.

 The reward of a self-grown garden is worth the effort anywhere you go, from the tallest building to just around the block.

 For tips to start your own rooftop garden, check out these websites:

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