Image via The New York Times.
Sunset Park Farms. It’s easy to dismiss the name for another hokey brand of unscrupulous chicken farmers that Food, Inc. told you to avoid back in 2008. But for those who can pick out the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood in the name, Sunset Park might bring to mind a sprawling industrial milieu, and the future home to a 100,000 square-foot hydroponic rooftop garden. According to the New York Times, Bright Farms is planning to start construction in the fall for a hydroponic greenhouse spanning the rooftop of a massive former Navy warehouse acquired by the city’s Economic Development Corporation last year. What could well be the largest rooftop farm in the United States is slated to yield millions of pounds of produce a year, enough to supply fresh vegetables to 5,000 New Yorkers. Moreover, its soil-less agricultural system will not only use significantly less water than soil-based operations but also capture an estimated 1.8 million gallons of New York City’s storm water per year.
“Brooklyn was an agricultural powerhouse in the 19th century, and it has now become a local food scene second to none,” said Paul Lightfoot, the chief executive of Bright Farms, to the Times. “We’re bringing back a business model where food is grown and sold right in the community.” Lightfoot and his company are currently negotiating to have their lettuce, tomatoes and herbs carried in local supermarket chains.
The effort to grow the number of commercial rooftop farms in New York City led borough president Marty Markowitz to press for changes to the city’s zoning laws. Like many opening up to the prospect of New York City growing and consuming its own local produce, Markowitz sees the eight-story Department of Navy structure—abandoned since 2000—as prime real estate for a farm operation: “Here in New York, we don’t have acres and acres of unused land to grow fresh food, but Brooklyn’s got plenty of industrial buildings with unused roofs that are perfect for urban farming,” he said in a statement. The Bright Farms project could be an exciting step towards the redevelopment of the waterfront neighborhood.
Image via Bright Farms.