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PR- 286-12
August 2, 2012


Brooklyn Grange, A Green Infrastructure Grant Recipient, Set to Absorb More Than One Million Gallons of Rain Water Each Year, Preventing Runoff and Water Pollution

Rooftop Farm to Yield 20,000 Pounds of Produce for Restaurants and Farm Stands Across the City

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation CEO Andrew Kimball and Brooklyn Grange CEO Ben Flanner today toured the largest rooftop farm in New York City. Brooklyn Navy Yard, in partnership with the Brooklyn Grange, received a Green Infrastructure Grant to help manage stormwater runoff and improve water quality – part of PlaNYC’s goals for cleaner waterways. The new 43,000 square foot farm sits atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and will absorb more than one million gallons of rainwater annually. Brooklyn Grange, which has another rooftop garden in Long Island City, expects to yield 20,000 pounds of produce each year and is currently harvesting salad greens, rainbow chard, kale, basil, eggplant, cucumbers and ground cherries.

“It’s no news that a tree grows in Brooklyn, and now we’re ready to harvest cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce and kale,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Along fresh produce and new jobs, the city’s largest rooftop garden will absorb more than a million gallons of storm water and help keep our harbors and streams clean. This is one of the biggest projects we’ve funded as part of our Green Infrastructure program and will help us meet our PlaNYC goals for a greener, greater New York.”

“At the City Council, we consistently look for inventive ways to improve New York City’s food system, including through urban farming, and Brooklyn Grange is a remarkable example of an organization that’s changing our city,” said Speaker Quinn. “Working with the Administration, we passed Local Law 5 in 2008 that established a sustainable storm water management plan, which led to the Department of Environmental Protection launching the successful Green Infrastructure Grant program. And four years later, here we are embracing innovative storm water management techniques and the creativity of the city’s urban agriculture movement. This is a special moment for Brooklyn Grange; they are proving that our city is much more than an urban jungle.”

“One of the key strategies in the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan is to engage diverse stakeholders who are interested in using rainwater as a resource while helping us reduce pollution, and Brooklyn Grange is a clear demonstration of this landmark strategy’s full potential,” said Commissioner Strickland. “Today the waters of New York Harbor are the cleanest they have been in more than 100 years, and green infrastructure projects such as this rooftop farm will help continue this remarkable progress while also bringing environmental, healthful, and economic benefits to all five boroughs.”

“New York City’s newest and largest rooftop farm is a great example of our innovative approaches to meeting a variety of the city’s needs as well as our PlaNYC goals,” said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “What began as a grant just over a year ago has grown into a thriving agricultural enterprise that will help us manage our stormwater infrastructure and also deliver fresh produce throughout New York.”

“Brooklyn Grange’s new rooftop farm is a win-win-win.  We are reducing storm water runoff, creating local jobs and providing access to fresh produce for the community,” said Andrew Kimball, CEO and president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.  “I would like to thank Brooklyn Grange for bringing their creative vision to the Navy Yard and the Bloomberg Administration, through the Department of Environmental Protection, for providing the critical funding to facilitate this project.”

“We’re thrilled to expand our business and scale up the positive ecological impact we have on our community,” said Brooklyn Grange President Ben Flanner. “We are grateful to our partners at Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, as well as the City and Department of Environmental protection for helping make this farm possible.”

“From farming to filming, the Navy Yard continues to prove that success is possible even in the most difficult times,” said State Senator Squadron. “The Navy Yard's rooftop garden is yet another creative way to put this historic space to use to create jobs while serving our community and our environment. Thank you to Mayor Bloomberg, the Navy Yard, Brooklyn Grange, and all of those working with us toward a sustainable, innovative, and growing Brooklyn.”

“Congratulations to Brooklyn Grange for piloting a model for our City of a financially viable, community focused, urban farm that is ‘green’ in all the right ways,” said Council Member Brewer. “Under the vision and leadership provided by the Mayor and Speaker, I looking forward to working towards the expansion of urban farms and local food initiatives to boost freshness and healthy diets within the five boroughs. When it comes to nutrition, taste and variety, these foods improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers and it’s a great step to creatively utilize our resources to be able to bring these foods into our local businesses, restaurants, and homes.”

“Since the passage and enactment of New York City’s nationally acclaimed greenhouse gas reduction law and the release of Mayor Bloomberg’s visionary PlaNYC, New York City has been the national leader in greenhouse gas reduction and a world leader in climate change adaptation,” said Councilman Gennaro, chairman of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee. “This rooftop garden is a wonderful example of how this Administration is incentivizing practical greenhouse gas reduction strategies and building the environmentally sustainable city that we all want for ourselves and demand for our children.”

“I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate a successful first harvest of the City’s largest rooftop garden. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn for their commitment to and investment in rooftop gardening throughout New York City,” said Council Member Levin. “I would also like to thank Commissioner Strickland, Andrew Kimball of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and everyone at Brooklyn Grange for working together to find innovative solutions to some of our City’s more complex issues.”

“Things are really ‘looking up’ in Brooklyn, with the opening of the largest rooftop farm in New York City by Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard — producing locally grown food that is tastier and fresher than food trucked in from hundreds of miles away and helping the environment by diverting hundreds of thousands of gallons of storm water from ending up in our waterways,” said Brooklyn Brorough President Marty Markowitz. “Here in New York, we don’t have acres and acres of land to grow fresh food, and that’s why I’ve been advocating for the changing of zoning laws to maximize rooftop space and open up our borough’s industrial buildings for growing fresh produce. Bravo to Brooklyn Grange for sending urban farming ‘through the roof’ in Brooklyn!”

Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Grange were $592,730 to build the rooftop farm in 2011 as part of the DEP’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program. The rooftop is the Program’s largest project to date and the first to be completed. The grant program is a key component of the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan, which Mayor Bloomberg launched in 2010. New York City, like other older urban centers, is largely serviced by a combined sewer system where stormwater and wastewater are carried through a single pipe. During heavy storms, the system can exceed its capacity and is designed to prevent treatment plants from washing out by discharging a mix of stormwater and wastewater — called a combined sewer overflow, or CSO — into New York Harbor. 

Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other structural elements to absorb and evaporate water – techniques that help manage stormwater and improve the quality of the city’s surrounding harbors and streams. The plan expands on goals originally introduced in PlaNYC to capture more rainfall and reduce CSOs by 1.5 billion gallons per year.

The rooftop farm will divert more than one million gallons of stormwater from entering the New York City sewer system each year, and use it to irrigate crops. It will also provide benefits to the Navy Yard itself, as green roofs have been proven to lower heat loss in winter and decrease heat gain over black roofs.

The farm’s 12-inch deep growing beds are comprised of a special soil medium blended specifically for rooftop use and custom designed by Brooklyn Grange and Skyland USA, based on 2.5 years of experience at the farm’s flagship location. With high productivity already underway, Brooklyn Grange’s second farm anticipates an estimated annual yield of 20,000 pounds of fresh produce per year.  Crops will include leafy greens, aromatic herbs, heirloom tomatoes and carrots. The farm is productive during the months of April-November, while winter months see the planting of cover crops, such as clover and vetch, to prevent soil erosion and replenish vital nutrients.  The Brooklyn Navy Yard is also the new home of the Brooklyn Grange Apiary that consists of over 30 hives, which will yield approximately 1,500 pounds of honey annually.

About Brooklyn Grange:

Brooklyn Grange is a commercial, sustainable farm located atop the roofs of two large buildings in Long Island City in Queens and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  Founded in 2010, the farm has over two acres of rooftop under cultivation, and has harvested and sold over 40,000 pounds of vegetables to restaurants, Community Support Agriculture (CSA) members and directly to the public via weekly farm stands. The farm includes two flocks of egg-laying hens and a commercial apiary comprising over thirty hives. Brooklyn Grange is also proud to fulfill its role as a community center, providing school groups, families and volunteers a forum for learning about and participating in urban farming and the local food supply.

About Brooklyn Navy Yard:

The Brooklyn Navy Yard, once known as America’s premier shipbuilding facility, is today known for so much more. With such diverse businesses as movie studios, furniture manufacturers, ship repairers, architectural designers, electronics distributors and jewelers, the Brooklyn Navy Yard isn’t just filled with a storied past. It's also filled with a promising future. Visit BLDG 92, a new exhibition and visitors’ center, to explore the Navy Yard's past, present and future.


Stu Loeser /Lauren Passalacqua   (212) 788-2958

Chris Gilbride/Ted Timbers (DEP)   (718) 595-6600

Anastasia Cole Plakias (Brooklyn Grange)   (917) 204-5644

Shane Kavanaugh (Brooklyn Navy Yard)   (212) 889-0808


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