In 2010, a group of renegade urban dreamers gathered on a New York City roof. With bikes and cranes, passion and sweat—they built a farm. Then another. Then launched events. Today, Brooklyn Grange is the leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business in the US.
They operate the world’s largest rooftop soil farms, located on two roofs in Brooklyn (Navy Yard) and Queens (Long Island City) and grow 50,000 pounds of organically cultivated produce yearly. They distribute fresh vegetables and herbs to local restaurants. Globally, they provide urban farming and green roof consulting and installation services. They partner with local nonprofits to promote healthy communities. Egg-laying hens, a commercial apiary, and a nonprofit educational arm, City Growers, all contribute to Brooklyn Grange’s mission.
Farm events started in 2011 as dinner parties. Now their public events, in partnership with Brown Paper Tickets, vary widely—yoga classes, flower workshops, dinners, weddings, corporate retreats and film screenings.
We asked Brooklyn Grange’s Anastasia Cole Plakias, VP and co-founder, and Michele Kaufman, events director, how a diverse events program grew their business and strengthened community ties.
Brown Paper Tickets Q: Why do you exist? What is your vision?
Brooklyn Grange: When the team first met in the fall of 2009, we shared the goal of creating a fiscally sustainable, scalable, replicable model for urban agriculture that could thrive without relying on ever-diminishing ground-level space, or be crowded out by development. We were drawn to the environmental benefits of soil-based rooftop farming: from storm water management to reduction of urban heat island effect and diverting food scraps from the waste stream through composting, our farm supports the ecosystem of New York City by activating existing infrastructure as green space. Rooftop farming merges the benefits of green roofs with those of urban agriculture.
We’ve [recently] focused on growing our business and optimizing operations. We’re excited to return to our core mission of sharing the knowledge we’ve gleaned over the last four seasons by launching a new workshop series. From composting and seed saving to bouquet arranging and making natural dyes from plants, we’ve cast a wide net, and enlisted experts across urban agriculture, wellness and sustainability fields to help.