A few days ago, my friend, Renee, and I were driving through Queens, New York City, doing the kind of things that I do when I am not traveling – running errands. As we went through Long Island City, I remembered my friend’s affinity for produce, especially of the locally-farmed variety.
A year ago, I had done some real estate scouting in Long Island City; the company that I work for, my day job when I am not traveling, needed an office/warehouse space, and I was set on finding something there in Queens. I came across the Standard Motor Products Building, which is this large warehouse in industrial L.I.C., renovated and converted into commercial offices. The renovation was amazing, and the place offered some state of the art features that is not normally found in this neighborhood. The lobby of the building was very fancy, with touchscreen directory listings and an art gallery in an adjacent room. Spacious parking is located directly beneath the structure. Jim Henson Productions (the name behind the Muppets) have their offices in the same building, along with many other local New York City businesses, both large and small. Though I petitioned to my company for the building to be our new home, I lost that battle, and we moved to New Jersey.
But there is one feature about this unassuming space that I haven’t mentioned yet: the Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm. High above Northern Boulevard on the roof of this building is a commercial farm, one that at the same time both denies its location in this world city while also quintessentially defining why New York is New York. The Brooklyn Grange is based on 37-18 Northern Blvd in Long Island City, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. The 40,000 sq. ft. (1 acre) farm, led by Head Farmer Ben Flanner, aims to grow vegetables within the New York City limits and sell the produce at local markets and to local businesses and restaurants. Though it is a commercial venture, the Brooklyn Grange is open to the public, and they welcome school groups and families; research into urban farming takes place at the Grange, and the employees and volunteers regularly educate those who stop by on several farm-related topics.
Reaching the top of the farm, situated on the roof of the 6th floor, we were blown away by the 360-degree views of New York City and beyond. Not only is this place a pioneer in its work, but what other farm could boast such magnificent views?
Renee made her way around the roof, snapping photos at anything and everything; I stepped to the edge of the roof and admired the view. It was breathtaking. The entire Manhattan skyline could be seen, from end to end, everything from the World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan on the left, to far past the tall buildings of Midtown on the right. All around the warehouse, it was as if we could see for miles; northern Brooklyn was easily visible, and it was possible to even make out the air traffic control tower at Laguardia Airport.
Our intangible prize was well worth the trip! Take a look at the photos below for more cool shots, click to enlarge:
Other facts about the Brooklyn Grange:
- Though it is located in Queens, it is called Brooklyn because all of the founders were located in Brooklyn and they were looking for a place there; when the space in Queens became available, they kept their already-incorporated name.
- The farm grows by organic standards, with no synthetic fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides, but is not seeking to obtain USDA organic certification.
- 1.2 million pounds of soil.
- 20,000 linear feet of green roofing material.
- Some of the vegetables grown at the Grange include tomatoes, salad greens, herbs, carrots, fennel, beets, radishes, and beans.
37-18 Northern Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11101