With the United States still suffering from the aftereffects of the worst economic recession since the 1930s, cities across the country are struggling with high unemployment and stagnating local economies.
Urban farming, the latest agricultural trend to sweep the nation, promises to relieve some of that suffering, creating jobs and boosting revenue. Urban farming essentially transforms abandoned and unused urban space (such as dilapidated buildings and vacant lots) into small-scale agricultural operations. Over the past several years, urban farming movements have sprung up across the country in cities from San Francisco to Detroit.
Urban farmers are now hoping to expand their operations in New York City. The city’s dense layout means that there is a scarce amount of space available for agriculture. Innovative farmers, however, have begun eyeing city rooftops as ideal locations to build greenhouses.
According to a professor at The New School, a university based in New York, “there are thousands of acres of rooftop space in New York City potentially suitable for agriculture — with more than 1,000 acres in Queens.”
The Brooklyn Grange, a 40,000 square foot farm located on the roof of the Standard Motor Projects building in Long Island City, is scouting new locations to expand their operations. Requirements for potential locations include at least 30,000 square feet of space and the structural integrity to support over 1 million pounds of soil.
In addition to strengthening the local economy, urban farms help reduce costs for partner businesses. In addition to renting out previously unused space, rooftop farms can help trap heat, lowering energy costs.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer