Wednesday’s bus trip to Brooklyn Grange and Brooklyn Botanic Garden was a fantastic day, starting with the bus driver taking special care of us—helping us off the bus, assisting us across the street, and driving very carefully. The weather was great, with a gentle breeze all day as we first toured Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm with Ben Flanner, the industrial engineer and modern-day urban farmer at his second location, atop Building 3 at the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Colorful organic greens were planted in successive rows, along with tomatoes, organic cut flower gardens, and organic herbs. Ben stressed the importance of organics and the practice of avoiding pesticides to support pollinators. Chickens and bees round out the farm’s crops with eggs and honey. A hawk flew over and circled, hoping for a chicken dinner, but the chickens were protected in an enclosure that is considered free range.
Brooklyn Grange captures rooftop rain runoff and filters it before it enters the waterways. The farm supplies grocery stores, markets, restaurants, and the local farmer’s market with fresh produce. I was introduced to Ben a few years ago when he spoke at Brookside Gardens at a symposium about the future of farming. The question was posed: “Where is the farming industry headed when the average age of farmers is now 65 or over?” Then we met Ben, with his smile, intellect, and passion that gave an entirely new way to think about the future of organic farming. To follow up with a trip to see his project firsthand, with a group of gardeners that share his passion, was wonderful.
by Robyn Affron
Visitor Services Coordinator