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Fast Cities

New York: Urban Farms [Fast Cities 2010]

Illustration by Don Foley
Illustration by Don Foley

New York's concrete jungle is about to get more green — and tasty — thanks to Gotham Greens, which is building a hydroponic rooftop farm in Brooklyn. The eco-efficient farm will take a small bite out of the $2 billion in produce that's trucked into the city each year. Here's how it works.

1. Power Feed
The $2 million, 16,000-square-foot farm — which opens this spring — is powered by a 60-kilowatt solar-voltaic array.

2. Waterworks
A large cistern collects rainwater, which is used for irrigation.

3. Buzz Off
Beneficial bugs, such as ladybugs and wasps, are used instead of pesticides to protect crops.

4. Green Wheels
Produce is delivered by bicycles or renewable-energy-powered vans, depending on distance and volume.

5. Watery Fields Forever
Everything from bok choy to basil is produced using hydroponics, a soil-free method of farming. "Our plants grow straight from nutrient-filled water," says CEO Viraj Puri. Hydroponics uses 10 times less water than traditional farming, with higher crop yields.

6. Local Hunger
Of the 40 tons of expected crops, 70% will head to Whole Foods. The rest will be sold to restaurants and at farmers markets.

A version of this article appeared in the May 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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