The borough of Brooklyn knows from rooftop farms. Ever since the urban farming craze hit, small and large farms have been popping up on warehouse roofs to serve bearded young people who, not used to making sacrifices, want to live in the city and also eat farm-fresh vegetables. But Gotham Greens, a farm two years in the making that sold its first lettuce a few weeks ago, is a rooftop farm of a different breed. It could, in fact, be the rooftop farm of the future.
In a custom built 15,000-square-foot greenhouse in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood, Gotham Greens is currently growing five kinds of lettuce, and supplying the leafy goodness to New York's Whole Foods, Fresh Direct, along with Mario Batali's Eataly and other stores. "We harvest in the morning and it's in the store in the afternoon, says Viraj Puri, cofounder and CEO. "Literally, they get it the same day. And we can do that year-round."
Because of their state-of-the-art climate control system and hydroponic growing methods, Gotham Greens will still be providing that lettuce to Whole Foods in the middle of winter. It's hard to get local lettuce (especially lettuce so local it was grown less than 10 miles away) in a New York winter. Now you can. "It's on a pretty sophisticated computer control system that has sensors all over the place," Puri says, "and will deploy lights and fans and shades curtains and heat blankets and irrigation pumps automatically."
We profiled the company when it announced its launch, as well as some of its tech, and now that the farm—which has the usual bevy of sustainable innovations like a solar array and captured rainwater—is up and running, it will be producing about 550 pounds a day (that's 100 tons a year) of greens for the city. And while the initial focus is on greens, plans for a second farm with a focus on vine vegetables like tomatoes are in the works.