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Gotham Greens: Brooklyn's New High-Tech Rooftop Farm

Using hydroponics and climate control technology, the farm is serving up hundreds of pounds of super local lettuce to the city's markets on the same day it's harvested.

Gotham GreensThe 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.

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  • Mike Collins

    This is such a tremendous idea. I am really happy to see it taking off. There are also plans for an aeroponic facility in Newark.

  • Mark White

    It's about time that we start looking up and not out.  The ever growing cities and towns are using up space that could be used for farming.  Some cities have started growing gardens on the highrise rooftops with trees and shrubs, Gotham Greens has taken this to a whole new level.  My hat's off to you, what an amazing transformation.  Not only the use of space, but these roof top gardens help reduce the summer heat of the cities, can help keep the buildings warmer and help reduce CO2 emissions. I wish the rest of the country would get behind this idea.  Great job.

  • cheelan

    This is a dream! I hope it's successful and keeps on growing!
    Upstate NY, what are you doing to catch up??! We have tons of space nobody is using, and tons of clean water. There's no reasonable excuse not to do this year 'round.
    Wegmans is buying all the fresh produce (most of it) from Canada - let's grow it in NY!!!

  • Preeti Puri

    Gotham Greens is amazing! I have tried all five kinds of your lettuce - never tasted better lettuce! The basil is the best ever. Looking forward to the tomatoes.....
    Wishing you all the very best for your second farm and third and fourth.......this is just what the city needs.