New York City imports $1 billion in vegetables every year to feed the city’s constantly growing population. In the future, the majority of the city’s produce might be grown a little closer to home if Gotham Greens gets its way.The start-up, which recently won the grand prize in New York’s Green Business Competition, is building NYC’s first hydroponic rooftop farm on top of a church in Jamaica, Queens.
Gotham Greens’ $1.4 million, 12,000-square-foot hydroponic rooftop farm will produce 30 tons of fruits and vegetables every year using a water-based, soil-free method of farming. The farm will be powered by 2,000 square feet of solar panels located on a neighboring roof, and the operation will use rainwater gathered from a giant sistern. Gotham Greens plans on delivering its produce in a biodiesel van, cutting out middle men who often charge farmers a 10% to 15% markup.
Construction of the Gotham Greens farm will begin in the fall, with the first harvest expected early next year. The start-up’s first customer is Whole Foods–70% of the farm’s produce will go to its New York stores–but Gotham Greens also hopes to deliver produce to farmer’s markets around the city.
New York Sun Works estimates that hydroponic farms installed in NYC’s 14,000 acres of unshaded rooftops could feed up to 20 million people in the city and surrounding suburbs, so don’t be surprised if a Gotham Greens garden pops up on a rooftop near you.