Thursday’s Rooftop Destination: The “Rooftop Crop Shop” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (63 Flushing Avenue, Building 3, Brooklyn)

Having created the single largest commercial rooftop farm in the United States in the Borough of Queens on Northern Boulevard apparently wasn’t enough.  Ben Flanner, head farmer of Brooklyn Grange, the young man with the irresistible twinkle in his eyes, boundless energy and chronically mismatched socks, now runs the TWO largest commercial rooftop farms in the United States, the newest one on the massive roof of Building 3 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  Brooklyn Grange has finally come to Brooklyn!

growing tomatoes eleven stories up at the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Eleven floors above ground level, is the magnificent 45,000 square foot rooftop farm where organic salad greens, tomatoes, kale, chard, eggplants, basil, flowers, okra, ground cherries and more grow.  Stop by on Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m. when the farm and its weekly farmers market, “The Rooftop Crop Shop,” are open to the public.

This roof farm has other benefits that are not immediately apparent.  It is insulating the building below, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  It creates a bio-diverse environment where bees and Monarch butterflies thrive.  And it will absorb one million gallons of storm water runoff that will not end up in the already overtaxed and aging New York City sewage system.

roof-farmed flowers at the Grange

Standing by the doorway that leads from the 11th floor of Building 3 to the outdoor rooftop farm, it is such fun to watch people as they exit the drab, industrial building and enter the colorful rooftop farm.  There is the initial reaction:  The wide-eyed first view of four to five foot tall, lush tomato plants where everyone seems to stop momentarily in his tracks to take in such a unique view.  Then a second or so later, as the visitor breathes out, you hear the collective gasp of “Wow!” or similar exclamations.  Only then do visitors begin to notice the fantastic water, city and historical dry dock views from this 11thfloor vegetarian’s dreamscape.

some of what’s for sale at the “Rooftop Crop Shop” on Thursdays from 12-5

How does Farmer Ben do it?  With incredibly careful planning, fantastic partners and lots of hard working volunteers, plus Ben has several income streams to keep this farm commercially viable.  Other than a well-subscribed CSA (community supported agriculture) membership and stalls at several Brooklyn farmers markets, Brooklyn Grange has contracts with several local restaurants that pre-order specific roof crops to suit the chef’s menu.  This creates a third and very important stream of revenue to keep the Grange viable.  In fact, if you visit Building 92 in the Navy Yard, you can enjoy some Grange veggies at Ted and Honey, the café on the third floor that boasts – gotta love this – an outdoor dining roof terrace.  By the way, for good measure, Building 92, also has a sixth floor green roof which is clearly visible from the 11thfloor Grange.

3 of the 8 rooftop bee hives next to the Brooklyn Grange farm. There are 30 bee hives in total at the Navy Yard, expected to produce 1,500 pounds of local honey.

Did I mention the eight rooftop bee hives on the building next door?  The rooster and chickens in the rooftop coop?  So much to see – please visit the Brooklyn Grange at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Thursdays from noon to 5 during the growing season.  And leave some time to wander through the enormous historical Navy Yard which is transforming into a sustainable industrial park like no other, with a museum, a movie studio, artists and furniture makers, and so much more.  They have several tours available if you are so inclined.  Or you can wander around with a map on your own.  Just wear comfy shoes – this place is huge!

One of the views of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Grange in the Brooklyn Navy Yard

6 thoughts on “Thursday’s Rooftop Destination: The “Rooftop Crop Shop” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (63 Flushing Avenue, Building 3, Brooklyn)

  1. Hi Leslie,

    We had met at the Cities Alive Conference in Chicago – going through your blog I hadn’t realized that we’d covered a few of the projects you have on here! (e.g. Brooklyn Navy Yard and the High Line (of course). Hope all’s well.

    Patrick – Green Building & Design

  2. What do you do if you love farming and live in Brooklyn? Put a farm on the roof! Completely brilliant and so, so beautiful. And the food!

    When you’re ready to start a marketing company and need a writer, let me know. I hope they use this post for PR. It’s wonderful.

  3. This is so cool, and I am jealous. We have great farmers markets here in SD, but they are not at the farm (Chino’s the exception). How wonderful to be able to shop right from the growing garden — and not have to labour over your own garden. Looks like I need another trip to NYC, on a Thursday.

  4. Leslie, I was so pleased to see another post from you. How do you find all these magical places?!?!

    I am so jealous of their productive garden. All those delicious veggies (and all that honey) look delicious.

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